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February 19, 2020 3:26 pm

Netanyahu Rival Gantz Dismisses Israeli PM’s Debate Challenge as ‘Spin’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on as he sits next to Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, during a memorial ceremony for late Israeli President Shimon Peres, on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, Sept. 19, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun / File.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief political rival, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, said on Wednesday that he would not take up Netanyahu’s challenge to a televised debate.

Netanyahu declared on Tuesday, “I’m ready to go anytime or anywhere. … I have no teleprompters, we’ll talk truth.”

The Israeli news site N12 reported that, when asked if he would debate Netanyahu, Gantz replied, “I look him right in the eyes, I look at the Israeli public right in the eyes, I put the whole truth in front of the Israeli public every evening and I intend to keep doing so.”

“Netanyahu is lying, faking and spinning, and I don’t intend to attend this party,” he added.

In response to Gantz’s comments, Netanyahu asserted, “Gantz is afraid of debating and he knows why. Israel needs a leader who is strong and not a coward.”

“If Gantz is afraid to debate the prime minister, how will he stand up to the enormous challenges facing the State of Israel?” Netanyahu asked. “I call upon Gantz again: Come debate me.”

Gantz characterized Netanyahu’s challenge was an attempt to distract the public from the prime minister’s upcoming trial on corruption charges, set to begin two weeks after the March 2 Knesset elections.

Two previous elections in the past year have resulted in stalemate, with neither Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party nor Gantz’s centrist Blue and White alliance able to form a governing coalition.

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