Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz agreed Monday to engage in talks to form a shared government.
Netanyahu, the leader of the Likud Party, and Gantz issued a joint statement saying their negotiating teams would meet on Tuesday to discuss forming a unity government after meeting for more than two hours at President Reuven Rivlin's office.
"Following the request of the president, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz discussed between themselves ways to advance the unity of Israel," the statement said.
Neither candidate's party secured enough seats in the country's parliament to secure an outright majority, with Blue and White winning 33 seats to Likud's 31.
They also both failed to form majority coalition governments with their supporting parties. Netanyahu received the support of parties holding 55 seats, while Gantz was endorsed by 54 seats.
Gantz has previously said he would not join a coalition government with Netanyahu as the longtime prime minister faces possible indictment on three corruption cases.
As president, Rivlin must present one lawmaker with the task of forming a government by Oct. 2 and called Monday's meeting "a significant step forward."
"The people expect you to find a solution and to prevent further elections, even if it comes at a personal and even ideological cost," he said. "A shared and equal government is possible. It can and it must express the different voices in society."