The Latest: Netanyahu challenger fails to form coalition

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Heidi Levine

Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz attends an official memorial for former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his wife Leah, commemorating 24 years since the assassination of Rabin, at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (Heidi Levine/Pool via AP)

JERUSALEM – The Latest on Israeli politics (all times local):

8:05 p.m.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s challenger says he has failed to form a governing coalition by a Wednesday deadline.

Wednesday’s announcement by Benny Gantz deals a major setback to his hopes of replacing the long-serving Netanyahu and could set the stage for the country’s third election in under a year.

Gantz had been tapped by the country’s president to form a government after Netanyahu failed at the task last month. But like Netanyahu, Gantz was unable to muster the support of a majority in the 120-seat parliament.

He said he had informed Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, of his decision.

With his announcement, parliament has 21 days to rally behind Gantz, Netanyahu or a third dark-horse candidate. If that fails, the country would be forced to hold elections in March.