Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main opponent, Benny Gantz, have taken a "significant step" toward forming a unity government, the Israeli president said.
Raven Rivlin speaks after hosting a meeting for the two rivals. [1
Last week's general election – the second this year – ended in a dead end.
In an effort to reach a decision, President Rivlin recommended that the new government include both the Blue and White and Blue Alliance of Mr. Ganz, who won 33 seats, and Mr. Netanyahu's Likud Party, which won 31
Mr Rivlin stated that he would do everything possible to avoid a third general election this year.
Speaking after two hours of talks Monday at his Jerusalem offices, he said, "We have made a significant step forward tonight."
Turning to Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gantz, he added: "It is your turn now. It is your responsibility to create a government, and people expect to find a solution and prevent further elections, even if it comes at a personal and even ideological cost. "
In their joint statement, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gantz stated that their party negotiators would meet on Tuesday and the two leaders would then meet again with President Rivlin on Wednesday.
Earlier on Monday, Israeli-Arab MPs recommended former army chief Mr Ganz be prime minister.
The joint list, a bloc of Arab parties that became third in the election, said it wanted to remove Mr Netanyahu from
for the first time since 1992 that an Arab political group issued an approved
Aiman Ode, leader of the Joint List, told President Rivlin that his union's priority was to prevent Mr. Netanyahu from serving another
Joint List won 13 seats in the election. Mr Gantz has the approval of all 13 seats, he will still be short of the 61 seats required for a 120-seat majority in the legislature.
Last week's elections were held after coalition talks collapsed after the April poll .