JERUSALEM — President Reuven Rivlin said Sunday he will give former military chief of staff Benny Gantz the first chance at forming the next Israeli government after he was recommended for the task by a majority of lawmakers. The step comes two weeks after a third general election in less than a year produced no clear winner, continuing the country’s political paralysis.But Gantz, who was unable to form a government after the previous vote in September, still has a mammoth task ahead of him in securing support from unlikely and ideologically opposing parties who might or might not agree to serve in a coalition. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been similarly unable to form a government.Israeli’s political stalemate has been exacerbated in recent weeks by the novel coronavirus pandemic. On Saturday, Israel increased nationwide emergency measures it hoped would slow the spread of the virus, including closing schools, universities and all places of entertainment. The number of confirmed cases of covid-19 in Israel stands at 213, with no fatalities.Immediately following the March 2 vote, it appeared that Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party had gained the edge over Gantz’s Blue and White alliance, securing 36 seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, the Knesset,


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