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Netanyahu Ready to Debate, Challenger Says PM ‘Spooked’ by Trial Date
Benny Gantz (left) and Binyamin Netanyahu are shown on September 18, the second of three election days in less than a year, as they cast their votes. (Emmanuel Dunand, Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

Netanyahu Ready to Debate, Challenger Says PM ‘Spooked’ by Trial Date

After avoiding them for years, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called for a televised election debate with Benny Gantz, his main challenger in the upcoming March 2 vote, Israel’s third in less than a year. The call came the same day a Jerusalem court announced that Netanyahu’s long-awaited trial in three separate cases of alleged corruption will begin on March 17. Gantz quickly took to Twitter, writing: “What’s the matter, Netanyahu? Were you spooked that there’s now a date….?” Last weekend, when an interviewer asked the leader of the centrist Blue and White list whether he would be willing to debate Netanyahu, he said he was “ready for anything,” although he quickly turned the conversation around by saying he felt his opponent’s “next serious debate will be with prosecution witnesses….” Recent polls show Blue and White leading Netanyahu’s Likud. The head of the party winning the most votes is usually called upon to form a government, although the same polls show a continued deadlock when it comes to the establishment of governing coalitions.

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