Oct. 21 (UPI) -- For the second time in five months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he has failed to form a coalition government after a tight electoral contest with opposition leader Benny Gantz.
Netanyahu needed a coalition of 61 Knesset members to form a government, but said attempts to bring Blue and White Party leader Gantz to the negotiating table had failed "time after time."
"Ever since receiving the mandate [to form a government] I have worked relentlessly ... to establish a broad national unity government," Netanyahu said, announcing he was returning the mandate to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
Netanyahu's deadline to form a coalition was Wednesday. Rivlin said Gantz will now have 28 days to accomplish the task.
Gantz's party received 33 of 120 Knesset seats in Israel's Sept. 17 election, and Netanyahu's Likud Party won 32. Netanyahu had the backing of other parties, but not enough to form a government.
Netanyahu ordered last month's election in May after he wasn't able to form a coalition then, either.