Party leaders are waiting for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response,
ahead of a planned January 1 preelection debate that the Citizens’ Empowerment
Center in Israel announced on Tuesday.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman
(Yisrael Beytenu), Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz
and Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid all responded positively to the CECI’s invitation to
participate in the televised debate in Tel Aviv – though each presented their
own terms and conditions.
Netanyahu’s office did not respond to the CECI
letter, which the center sent last week, or to The Jerusalem Post’s queries on
According to the CECI invitation, “the Israeli public is
interested in an open debate between party leaders. A televised debate is the
best way to expose the parties’ and candidates’ vision, increase transparency
and ensure public representatives’ responsibility to the voters.”
public debate allows citizens to learn about candidates directly and make
smarter decisions when they go to the voting booth, the letter
Should the pre-election debate occur, it will be the first one
in Israel since 1996.
Yacimovich said she would only participate if
Netanyahu were there, and as such, she did not plan to attend the CECI
“Likud and Labor are the two leading parties, and their stances
are clearly and sharply opposed, allowing for an ideological, topical debate,”
the Labor leader’s spokeswoman said, adding that Yacimovich would agree to any
format or location that was convenient for the prime minister.
he would only participate in a debate between large parties, and demanded that
an empty podium be left on stage to represent whoever did not agree to
The Yesh Atid leader’s spokeswoman said he would be happy
“to take part in any debate meant to present his stances and hold a significant
political discussion on the topics that concern Israeli citizens, as well as the
need to change the Israeli political system.”
Liberman agreed to a debate
in principle, but did not commit to participating in the one in
“Israeli citizens deserve to hear what those who seek to lead
them are offering,” Mofaz said. “I see a great importance in holding a public
debate, so the public can see the differences and gaps in the Likud and Kadima
However, the Kadima leader said he would only debate if
Netanyahu participated, adding that “any decision to hide from the voters comes
from fear of exposing the truth.”
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