Jerusalem, April 16 (IANS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz failed to meet a midnight deadline to form an emergency unity government, thus failing to end the ongoing political impasse.

Negotiation teams with Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party convened for coalition talks on Wednesday evening, but no agreement was signed before the deadline, reports Xinhua news agency.

Both parties were yet to issue statements.

Senior officials with Blue and White party told the local media that the Likud has raised “absurd” demands, including giving Netanyahu immunity from a possible decision by the supreme court to ban him from running again because of his looming criminal trial in which he faces corruption charges.

The talks between the teams have continued overnight also after the deadline has expired.

The move means that Israel might witness a fourth round of election after three rounds of votes in less than a year produced no clear winner.

On Thursday, Gantz’s mandate to form a new governing coalition, given to him following the March 2 elections, is expected to be returned to Parliament.

Any lawmaker who could raise 61 supporters was eligible to receive a new mandate to form a governing coalition from the president who oversees the coalition talks.

A 28-day mandate given to Gantz, speaker of Parliament and Israel’s former military chief, to put together a governing coalition expired at midnight between Monday and Tuesday.

However, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin gave him another 48 hours to reach a unity deal after Gantz and Netanyahu said “a substantial progress” was made toward an emergency government that will deal with the COVID-19 crisis and the nation’s unprecedented year-long political deadlock.




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