Gantz Refuses to Debate Netanyahu as Election and Trial Draw Near
Two weeks before Israel votes a third time to establish a government, the candidate who heads the party polls show to be leading in the quest for seats in parliament is refusing to debate incumbent Binyamin Netanyahu. Critics of former army chief-of-staff Benny Gantz argue that he is using Netanyahu’s legal woes as an excuse to duck the debate which would put him in the position of having to answer the questions that he has successfully avoided addressing since the campaign for the first election, held in April. In fact, Gantz has, arguably, spoken less that any candidate in recent memory, although he has in recent days sat for a number of media interviews. Netanyahu, on the other hand, is seen as benefiting from a televised debate, particularly in reference to matters of experience. The election pits the nation’s longest serving prime minister, Netanyahu, against an opponent who has never held elected office and has never governed in a non-authoritarian situation. Some pundits also argue that criticism of Netanyahu and the fact he is standing trial on March 17, two weeks after the election, is more that Gantz owes it to the nation to be more, not less, forthcoming on his beliefs and opinions. They argue that nationally televised debates have become part of the election experience of democratic nations, although Netanyahu himself has not debated an opponent in a decade.