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Israel faces likely third election amid Bibi-Gantz standoff

Israel faces the increasing likelihood of a third election after another fruitless meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief challenger Benny Gantz.

Neither Netanyahu nor Gantz have the required majority to build a coalition government. Kingmaker Avigdor Lieberman has refused to give either the nudge for the required majority in Israel’s 120-seat parliament and has urged them to join in a unity government as a way out of the stalemate.

But Gantz and Netanyahu have refused to bend on their conditions for such an agreement. Their meeting late Tuesday made no headway.

Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, right, reaches out to shake hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at an official memorial for former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his wife Leah, commemorating 24 years since the assassination of Rabin, at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (Heidi LevinePool via AP)

Gantz has a midnight deadline Wednesday to present a potential coalition government. If he fails, as expected, the country enters the final 21-day period for a candidate to present a majority before new elections are called.

Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, left, attends an official memorial for former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his wife Leah, commemorating 24 years since the assassination of Rabin, at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (Heidi LevinePool via AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and heads of Israeli settlement authorities tour the Alon Shvut settlement, in the Gush Etzion block, in the occupied the West Bank, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Netanyahu traveled to the West Bank to celebrate the U.S.’s announcement that it does not consider Israeli settlements to be a violation of international law. (Menahem KahanaPool via AP)

Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz attends an official memorial for former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his wife Leah, commemorating 24 years since the assassination of Rabin, at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (Heidi LevinePool via AP)