Gantz's success is far from certain. However, Israel's complex political system ensures that the final outcome is probably not clear for weeks, and that a third election can be required in less than a year. The turnaround on Monday was nonetheless remarkable.
"This is new: this adds political imagination to include the possibility that someone who is not called Netanyahu could be the Prime Minister of the State of Israel," said the Senior Mordechai Kremnitzer Fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. "But I think Gantz will find it extremely difficult to form a coalition."
The power-sharing talks between Netanyahu's Likud Party and Gantz's Blue-and-White Party ̵
1; the two largest factions in the Knesset – collapsed almost immediately. The parties emerged from the September elections with an almost identical number of seats, and neither was close to a controlling majority.
The PM released a video Monday announcing an end to his efforts, two days before the deadline and his 70th birthday, blaming Gantz for the lack of progress.
"I have tried everything to bring Gantz to the negotiating table to discuss forming a government with broad national unity," Netanyahu said. "I tried everything to prevent a re-election. But unfortunately he always refused. "
Netanyahu warned in the video that Gantz, with the support of the Israeli-Arab legislatures whose party emerged as the third largest in the Knesset, could take power, saying that these parliamentarians" Encourage terror and reject the existence From Israel. "
In a brief statement, Gantz's party said, "The turnaround is over, and now it's time to act."
Although Gantz & # 39; s In the election of Likud, Netanyahu was favored with only one vote as the preferred Prime Minister of the Knesset members. Rivlin gave Netanyahu his first official mandate and gave him four weeks to assemble a majority.
But despite Rivlin's plea that both sides form a unity government, neither party was ready to engage in the main demands. Netanyahu said any coalition government should include its allies among the right and ultra-religious parties. Gantz said that someone other than Netanyahu, who is likely to face allegations of corruption, should lead Likud into a unity government.
The two sides attempted to negotiate a compromise proposed by Rivlin under which they would alternately divide the prime minister's position Gantz takes power when Netanyahu is charged. Netanyahu quickly agreed with the concept, but could not take Gantz, who might have calculated that Netanyahu's position will only weaken in the course of his legal battle. After a first meeting with the Prime Minister, Gantz refused numerous invitations from Netanyahu to hold one-to-one interviews. Gantz insisted that his rival was less interested in compromise than in ensuring that he was the first to be used in a power-sharing rotation. Netanyahu, who had been charged in November, was more concerned with "immunity" than unity, Gantz said.
If Gantz fails to form a government within the next four weeks, the president could invite anyone else into the Knesset to try to form a majority of 61 seats. If nobody succeeds within three weeks, the country could pass its third national election in one year, probably next March.
This prospect would probably make the last 21 days of pressure to form a government most fruitful, what a Likud statement called "the true show".
Analysts say there is no real possibility of compromise until both sides exhaust their efforts.
"To make concessions, there has to be maturity," said Kremnitzer. "And to get maturity, you have to fail a lot."
The past few weeks have been particularly turbulent for Netanyahu and Israel. His lawyers spent four marathon sessions convincing the Attorney General not to charge him with corruption. In Israel, there were large protests because of the increasing crime in Arab neighborhoods. And Turkey launched an offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria after President Trump said he is withdrawing US troops and voicing concerns in Israel about the value of American security guarantees.
Netanyahu proposed a quick vote of leadership within Likud. However, when a potential rival from the ranks expressed interest in opposing him, Netanyahu dropped the idea in favor of a vote of confidence at a sparsely attended meeting of the party executive.
Ruth Eglash contributed to this report.