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Mon, 16 Mar 2020 12:55 - Updated Mon, 16 Mar 2020 12:55

Israeli president tasks ex-military chief with forming gov't

JERUSALEM -- Israel's president tasked Monday former military chief Benny Gantz with forming a government, calling for an end to a yearlong political paralysis amidst efforts to tackle the novel coronavirus crisis.

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President Reuven Rivlin signed a letter of appointment that gives Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White party, 28 days to form a new governing coalition.

Speaking in a broadcast ceremony, Rivlin warned that "fourth elections are not an option." The move comes two weeks after the third election in less than a year.

"We are in a time of a national emergency," he said. "The size of the challenges requires the establishment of a national government."

Gantz vowed to "do everything to form a wide national and patriotic government within days."

On Sunday, parties representing 61 lawmakers of the 120-lawmaker parliament announced that they have endorsed Gantz. However, he still has the formidable task of uniting the parties that supported him, some of them with contradicting ideologies, to agree to terms that would form a stable coalition.

The recent March 2 elections were called after both Netanyahu and Gantz had failed to form a coalition government.

If Gantz fails again, Rivlin may assign Netanyahu with trying to form a government.

The political stalemate comes as Israel has increased emergency measures in an attempt to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus.

So far, all schools and universities have been closed, as well as cafes, restaurants, cinemas and other places of recreation. Gatherings of more than 10 people also have been banned,XINHUA.

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