Report: Netanyahu Considering Pre-Election Debate With Gantz

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Ariel Schalit/Pool via Reuters, File)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is “positively considering” engaging Blue and White head Benny Gantz in a public debate, Kan News reported. Gantz has not responded to the proposal yet, the report said.

According to the report, several media outlets have approached both Netanyahu and Gantz with the proposal. Netanyahu has decided against such debates in recent election campaigns, but believes he would have an advantage in a debate with Gantz, who is a political tyro. The debate would be only between the two leaders; Yair Lapid, who according to his rotation agreement with Gantz is supposed to take over the prime minister’s post two and a half years after the election – if Blue and White forms the government – will not be invited.

New polls Friday show that the right-wing bloc of parties expected to join a coalition led by Binyamin Netanyahu continues to grow – even if the prime minister’s Likud is not. The Yisrael Hayom – i24 News poll has the right-wing bloc at 66 Knesset seats, compared to 54 for the center-left and Arab parties.

With that, Blue and White continues to lead as the biggest party. The list led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid would get 33 seats if elections were held today, with the Likud getting only 26. Boosting the center-left is Meretz, which, according to the poll, would get eight seats. Labor comes in with seven, while Ta’al-Hadash, the sole Arab party, would get six.

On the right side of the map, both the Rightwing Union and the New Right party would get seven seats, as would United Torah Judaism. Shas would come in with six, while Kulanu and Yisrael Beytenu would get five each. Also getting five with be Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut party, which until recently was not expected to pass the electoral threshold. All of these parties, except for Feiglin’s, have declared they will join a coalition headed by Netanyahu, and while Feiglin has said that he would not commit to a Netanyahu-led coalition, he would not join one led by Gantz.

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