Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that he will make a final effort this week to salvage a deal from talks to form a unity government with his centrist election rival.
Netanyahu, facing corruption allegations he denies, has failed to secure a clear election victory twice in six months.
His right-wing Likud party came second with 32 seats in the 120-member parliament, against 33 for former military chief Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party, Reuters reported.
Israel’s president on Wednesday tasked Netanyahu with forming the next government.
If Netanyahu fails to clinch a deal, President Reuven Rivlin is then likely to ask Gantz to try to form a government.
The parties’ negotiators met on Friday without success, with both side exchanging the blame for the stalemate.
Likud said Netanyahu then telephoned Gantz and the two men would probably meet on Wednesday after another round of talks.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is making a last effort to bring about a breakthrough in the talks for a unity government,” Likud’s spokesman said.
According to Reuters, the Blue and White party said it would spare no effort to form “a broad, liberal, unity government.”