Israel's president says he has decided to give opposition leader Benny Gantz the first opportunity to form a new government following an inconclusive national election this month.
President Reuven Rivlin's office announced his decision late Sunday after consulting with leaders of all of the parties elected to parliament.
Israel's president on Sunday summoned Netanyahu and his challenger, Benny Gantz, to an emergency meeting in hopes of breaking the deadlock that has paralyzed the political system for the past year and could threaten the country's response to the coronavirus crisis.
Rivlin announced the meeting after a day of consultations with the country's political parties ahead of his decision on who should lead Israel's next government.
With rival sides evenly divided following the country's third inconclusive election in under a year, a unity government may be the only way out of the deadlock, which comes as the government confronts an increasingly serious coronavirus threat.