Tel Aviv [Israel], May 5 (ANI): Benjamin Netanyahu's deadline for forming a new Israeli government expired early on Wednesday.
Both Netanyahu and his rivals made last-minute attempts to secure an elusive majority, largely centered on Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and the support of the Islamist Ra'am party, reported Times of Israel.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu and Yair Lapid, opposition leader stepped up offers to Bennett, while talks continued in a bid to get far-right Religious Zionism party to agree to a government supported by the Islamist Ra'am party.
Yamina won just seven seats in the March election, Bennett has become a potential kingmaker and even king.
As the deadline approached, Netanyahu said Monday that he was ready to step aside as premier and let Bennett serve as the prime minister first in a rotation agreement-- a proposal immediately dismissed by Bennett, who said in response that Netanyahu simply didn't have the votes to form a coalition, reported The Times of Israel.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said he expected President Reuven Rivlin to task him with forming a government "if nothing surprising happens" before Tuesday night, but that he would be willing to let Bennett serve first as prime minister in any rotation agreement between them.
Earlier, Lapid had offered Bennett first turn at being Prime Minister in a power-sharing agreement in which Bennett would serve for a period of two years and three months, after which he would be appointed foreign minister and Lapid would assume the premiership.
The last elections, the fourth since April 2019, ended in gridlock, with Netanyahu's right-wing religious bloc again coming short of a ruling majority, in part because three right-wing parties ran with the declared goal of replacing him. (ANI)