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Israel's president taps Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form next government

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By Saphora Smith  with NBC News World News
Image: ISRAEL-POLITICS-VOTE-GOVERNMENT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu   -   Copyright  Menahem Kahana

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday tapped Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud party to form a new government after receiving the final results of last week's deadlocked election.

Netanyahu now has 42 days try and cobble together a government. If he fails to do so the opportunity could pass to the next candidate who the president thinks has the greatest chance of forming a government

Israeli presidents are responsible for picking prime minister candidates after elections. The process is usually a formality but has recently become much more complicated since neither Netanyahu nor Gantz can build a stable parliamentary majority on his own.

The announcement followed negotiations over a proposed unity government, with Gantz and Netanyahu unable to come to an agreement.

The final results released Wednesday saw the Likud party add an extra seat in Parliament, raising its total to 32 out of the 120 seats, one behind Blue and White's 33. But since the Likud's gain comes at the expense of an allied ultra-Orthodox party, it didn't change the total of 55 lawmakers who support a Netanyahu government compared to the 54 who back Gantz.

For the second time in five months, Netanyahu failed to secure a clear election victory. To form a governing coalition in Israel, a candidate needs 61 seats out of the 120-seat Knesset.

It is unclear whatNetanyahu will offer lawmakers to back his coalition to reach 61 seats.

When Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government in May he dissolved Parliament, triggering last-week's snap election, but as it stands it appears unlikely that he will have the numbers in the Knesset to usher in a third election.