Netanyahu challenges Gantz to a debate before elections

February 20, 2020 by JNS
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With Israel’s March 2 general elections just around the corner, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday challenged his main rival, Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, to a live debate.

Election posters hung by the Blue and White Party show their candidate Benny Gantz and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Feb. 18, 2020. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

During an interview with Israel’s Channel 20, Netanyahu said he wanted an unscripted debate with Gantz.

“We will debate on TV, we will speak to the people without any teleprompters,” said Netanyahu.

When asked if he would be willing to participate in such a debate, Gantz did not answer directly, instead stating that Netanyahu’s next debate would be with witnesses for the prosecution in his March 17 trial.

Gantz also mocked Netanyahu on Twitter, writing: “What happened, Netanyahu? You got spooked that a date has been set for your cross-examination of prosecution witnesses in your trial, so you’re pushing this spin? On March 17 you’re going on trial, but the State of Israel has to move on.”

Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman was quick to jump on the opportunity, saying he would be glad to debate Netanyahu.

Though public debates are part of the makeup of American elections, they are rare in Israel. The last one took place in 1996, between Netanyahu and then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres.


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