President Reuven Rivlin will on Monday invite Blue & White leader Benny Gantz to form the next government, his official residence said Sunday.
The announcement came after Gantz secured the support of more than 61 MKs in the 120-strong Knesset to form the next government.
Earlier Sunday, former military leader Gantz received the backing of Joint List, the predominantly Arab party that won 15 seats on March 2, making it the third largest party in parliament. A short time later Avigdor Liberman, whose party won seven seats in the vote two weeks ago also lent his support to Gantz.
"We were in talks with Blue & White and discussed all kinds of issues, including the diplomatic front," said Joint List leader Ayman Odeh as he met with Rivlin Sunday.
"We talked, for example, about a huge economic plan, the eradication of violence in Arab society. Some of the things we agreed on and some we still have gaps," he said.
Odeh warned however that his party would not support a unity government between Likud and Blue & White.
"If Gantz enters a national unity government we will be the main opponents," he said. "If Gantz wants to establish a center-left government then we recommend him. We want a center-left government, and all 15 members of the Joint List do recommend him."
Rivlin on Sunday afternoon summoned both Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to his residence in Jerusalem for an urgent evening meeting on immediately forming a unity government.
Although Gantz has the backing of more than half of MKs to try to form a government, it does not mean that he can muster enough lawmakers to agree to join his coalition.
Joint List has repeatedly said said it will not sit in any government, while Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman and two members of Gantz's own party, say they will refuse to be part of a government that relies on support from the Joint List.
MK Orly Levy, who joined her faltering Gesher party in an alliance with the left-wing Labor and Meretz ahead of the election, has refused to endorse either side despite agreeing to back Gantz before the vote.
Liberman told the president on Sunday that he supports Gantz, but also called for the formation of an "emergency" unity government to deal with the coronavirus threat.
Netanyahu, in his caretaker role, invited Gantz to join him in an emergency government. Gantz has left the door open to such an arrangement, but also dismissed the offers as insincere.
Facing a difficult decision, Rivlin summoned the two men to his residence late Sunday in hopes of breaking the deadlock. Earlier, he implored for a power-sharing unity deal.
"Anyone who has watched the news in recent days understands that this is a time of trial, and that these are not regular consultations," he said.
"We must now deal with forming a government as soon as possible ... at this complex time."
First published: 18:18, 03.15.20