Photo: Ilia Yefimovich / dpa
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday tasked opposition leader Jair Lapid with forming a new government.
Rivlin said at his official residence in Jerusalem that he had spoken to Lapid and given him the mandate.
Rivlin said Lapid had received recommendations from 56 MPs.
Naftali Bennett of the ultra-right Jamina party, who like Lapid previously requested the mandate to form a government, received only seven recommendations.
The parliament, the Knesset, has 120 members.
Lapid said, "I will do everything I can to ensure that an Israeli unity government is formed as soon as possible so that we can start working for the citizens of Israel." However, to get a majority of 61 MPs, he would have to have a number of parties and unite lists that are far apart in the political spectrum. According to observers, this should not be easy. A new election is still not ruled out.
Previously, the incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a new government after the unclear outcome of the parliamentary elections in March.
His Likud party was the strongest party in the election with 30 out of 120 parliamentary seats, but clearly missed an absolute majority of 61 seats.
The search for possible coalition partners was complicated from the start in view of the unclear majority situation.
Netanyahu's deadline for forming a government expired at midnight on Tuesday; shortly before that, he informed President Reuven that he was unable to form a government.
Rivlin now tasked opposition leader Lapid, whose liberal party Yesh Atid (There is a future) had become the second strongest force in the March election, with the task.
On Tuesday, Lapid spoke out in favor of a "stable" unity government.
Otherwise, after four elections within two years, another vote could be held.
The candidate appointed by the president has four weeks to form a coalition and can apply for a two-week extension.
Should there be a new election, Netanyahu might also have the chance to become prime minister again
mfh / AFP