Israel’s prime minister-designate Tzipi Livni has been given an extra two weeks to form a government.
The move by president Shimon Peres was largely a formality.
Livni was elected leader of the ruling Kadima party last month, giving her 28 days to put together a coalition.
Under Israeli law, if she fails to put together a parliamentary majority in the next two weeks, the country could face early elections, more than a year ahead of schedule.
Peres could ask other politicians to try to form a government before calling a snap election, but analysts believe Livni is the only candidate with a realistic chance of succeeding.
She has already secured support from Labour. Her main obstacle remains getting the backing of ultra-orthodox Shas party.
Alternatively, she could opt for a minority government which would rely on precarious support from smaller opposition parties.
If an early election is called, polls suggest Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud would be the likely winner.
50-year old Livni is a former lawyer and Mossad agent, who is popular in Israel where she is seen as clean and honest. If succesful, she would become Israel’s second female prime minister after Golda Meir.