Israel requires a debate between its top candidates to ensure that the public will know what they stand for, the Movement for Quality Government wrote on Monday in a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his competition in the January 22 election.

There has not been a debate between all the candidates running for prime minister in Israel since the election between Netanyahu and then-prime minister Shimon Peres in 1996. Since then, the candidate perceived as the front-runner always scuttled plans for a debate.

“In a democratic country in which elected officials are our representatives, it is especially important to have an organized public debate between those who see themselves as prime ministerial candidates,” the movement wrote in the letter.

The movement said the short and intensive election Israel is holding made it even more crucial that a debate be held. It said a debate would allow candidates to sharpen their views and separate themselves from the pack.

Following the debate between US presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid called for Israel to hold a debate.

Netanyahu’s office declined to respond to the challenge.

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