The Israeli election campaign reached a new level of invective on Wednesday, as Benny Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of perpetrating “a hate crime against democracy and Israeli society.”
At a press conference less than five days before the elections, Gantz unleashed an unusually harsh attack:
“Netanyahu, look me in the eyes. Due to your obsession with evading prosecution, you are lying, dividing, sowing division… spreading malicious rumors and incitement.
“Netanyahu, you are poisoning Israel. Only a year and a half ago, you offered me to join Likud and be your defense minister and just two months ago you called for a partnership and offered me to be prime minister [in rotation]. Netanyahu, you lost it, and you aren’t worthy of being prime minister for even a single day longer. I won’t sit with you [in a coalition].”
Gantz also warned of unsavory election-day tactics:
“I already know about Netanyahu’s intention to disrupt the election day. He did so in text messages and false videos, and in the upcoming election he will do so in much more sophisticated ways. I urge the Election Commission to prepare and prepare — technology, personnel and appropriate organization. I demand that the chairman of the Election Commission ensure the correctness of Election Day. They are lying, and I am sure that by the election they will continue to lie every day.”
Netanyahu’s Likud party responded patronizingly: “Gantz seemed very ill at ease this evening. We urge him to calm down, drink a cup of water and come to a debate [with Netanyahu].”
Netanyahu has challenged Gantz to a debate, which the latter refused.
“Don’t whine and don’t act out. Politics are hard. The job of prime minister is a lot harder. It seems Gantz is simply incapable,” the party said.