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Former top general gets a shot at forming Israeli government

Israel's former military chief Benny Gantz is set to receive an official mandate to form the country's next government but has few options after last month's elections left him in a near tie with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu was given the first opportunity to form a government after assembling a large right-wing bloc but announced this week that he failed to build a 61-seat majority.

Gantz faces similarly steep odds, raising the possibility that Israel will hold a third election in less than a year.

President Reuven Rivlin will formally later on Wednesday grant the mandate to Gantz, who will have 28 days to form a coalition.

Both Gantz and Netanyahu say they favor a national unity government but are divided over who should lead it.