President Reuven Rivlin announced on Monday that next week he would begin meeting with representatives of the parties elected to Knesset to determine who to task with forming a new government.
In a statement Rivlin invited the heads of parties to meet with him next Monday, and is expected to decide on who will try to form the next government two days later.
The evidentiary stage of Prime Minister Netanyahu's corruption trial is slated to start on April 5, the same day Rivlin said he would start coalition talks. The Netanyahu bloc, which includes Likud, ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, as well as the far-right Religious Zionism, has 52 seats.
The anti-Netanyahu bloc, a patchwork of left, right and centrist factions, is also just shy of a majority with 57 seats.
Menawhile, Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz called on party leaders Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett and Gideon Sa'ar to meet "as soon as possible to find a way to end Netanyahu's corruption and to form a government."
After the official election results are released, the president has two weeks to task the lawmaker he believes has the best chance of forming a government. That lawmaker will have 28 days to form a government. Should an extension be required, the president may approve an additional 14 days.
Earlier on Monday, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Arye Dery, said that his party would recommend that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be tapped to form the next government following the March 23 vote, as Shas promised during the election campaign.
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In other efforts to form a new government, Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid, who heads the second largest party after Netanyahu's Likud, held talks with Gantz on Sunday. Lapid also met with United Arab List head Mansour Abbas, who has been thrust into the center of Israeli politics as an unlikely kingmaker.
On Sunday, Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said his party would recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Lapid be tasked with forming a coalition government. Lieberman didn't explicitly name Lapid in his Facebook post, but wrote that he would "back the chairman of a party from the opposition bloc that received the most Knesset seats as the candidate for Prime Minister."