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Yacimovich challenges PM to debate via Facebook
By LAHAV HARKOV
12/24/2012
Labor leader writes on Netanyahu's Facebook Timeline, offering to debate him in any forum or date he chooses.
 
Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich reached across the virtual aisle on Monday to write on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Facebook page and challenge him to a debate.

“The time has come for a public debate on important topics so the citizens of Israel can choose,” Yacimovich wrote, inviting him to a televised debate as is “accepted in the Western world. A campaign and election slogans may be an unavoidable necessity, but they cannot replace the real democratic expression – a debate.”

There has not been a debate between prime ministerial candidates since the first one, in 1996, when Netanyahu debated then-prime minister Shimon Peres. Netanyahu refused to participate in a debate in the following election in 1999, and the precedent has been followed ever since.

According to Yacimovich, the real choice is between her and Netanyahu, Labor and Likud-Beytenu.

“The public deserves it and we are responsible for a deep, real debate on two worldviews,” she explained.

The Labor leader asked Netanyahu to describe what he planned to do about a “deteriorating economic situation and widening social gaps” and reveal his planned budget for after the election. She said she was willing to debate in any forum or on any date the prime minister chose.

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Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) responded to Yacimovich’s challenge on Facebook.

“You want a debate? As accepted in the Western world? I’m glad you remembered that those are part of the rules of the game, and now I want to remind you, because you surely forgot, that you refused to debate when you ran for Labor chairman,” Erdan wrote.

He also referred to divisions in the Center-Left bloc.

“Anyway, what debate do you want? Left versus Center- Right? Great, but whom should we debate? Tzipi Livni? [Meretz chairwoman] Zehava Gal-On? [Yesh Atid leader] Yair Lapid? You? Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz?” On Saturday night, in televised interviews with channels 1, 2 and 10, Netanyahu said the public knows the issues well enough to vote without a debate.

“Nu, I’m debating with you,” he quipped to Channel 10’s Raviv Drucker when asked why he refused to debate.

“A debate is a great show, but I think the public knows how to decide,” he said. “It knows very well what will make it decide and who will bring a message of stability, who will take care of the big problems here.”

Several debates with other high-profile candidates, like Yacimovich, Livni, Lapid and Bayit Yehudi’s Naftali Bennett, on topics like the two-state solution, changing the system of government and other issues, have taken place since the January 22 election was declared in October, but without Netanyahu’s participation.

Meanwhile, Kadima’s Mofaz took to YouTube to challenge someone “who is laughing at us, tricking us” to a debate.

He was referring to Mariano Idelman, the actor who portrays both Mofaz and Netanyahu on the wildly popular sketch-comedy TV show Eretz Nehederet.
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