Israeli president holds talks in search for new government

Tel Aviv, May 5, (dpa/GNA) - Israel's President Reuven Rivlin is preparing for talks with top politicians on forming a government after caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to do so following inconclusive elections in March.

According to Rivlin's office, talks with Naftali Bennett of the Yamina party and the former opposition leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid (Future) party are scheduled for Wednesday morning.

The head of state also invited representatives of the other parties represented in parliament to present their positions on the progress of the government formation process.

A deadline for right-winger Netanyahu to form a governing coalition expired overnight.

This means that the camp of Netanyahu's opponents is facing a chance to end the 71-year-old's era as head of government. Whether they will succeed, however, is still completely open. A new election is still not out of the question as Israel remains in a political crisis.

Netanyahu remains at the head of an interim government for the time being. He has been in office continuously for 12 years and is the longest serving head of government in Israel's history.

A corruption trial is under way against him. He rejects the accusations made in it.

It was expected that Rivlin might appoint opposition leader Lapid to form the government. His party belongs to the political centre; at the end of March, it became the second-strongest force in the fourth parliamentary election in two years.

Rivlin could also give the mandate to the Knesset. In this case, each member of parliament can try to find the support of 61 of the 120 members within 21 days.