Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog called upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to debate him in English on Wednesday, during an interview with The Jerusalem Post’s Election Arena, a series of video interviews with candidates.
Herzog has been calling for Netanyahu to debate him for weeks. He was asked in the interview whether he would consider challenging the prime minister to debate him in English, which might persuade Netanyahu, because of his strength in the language.
“I have no problem debating Bibi in English in Hebrew or even Arabic, except Yiddish, which I’m not so good at,” Herzog said.
Hours after Netanyahu’s advisers saw the clip, they decided to release a statement saying Netanyahu would debate Herzog only if the Zionist Union’s second candidate for prime minister, MK Tzipi Livni, is part of the debate and if the debate takes place following his upcoming visit to Washington and his March 3 speech to Congress about Iran.
“The prime minister will consider a debate on television with the candidates of the Left to form the next government, Buji and Tzipi, when he returns from the US,” the Likud said in a statement.
In response, the Zionist Union said the debate should be held without preconditions, excuses, and stuttering, and that it should be held now.
Channels 2 and 10 joined the call for party leaders Tuesday to participate in a debate. Initially Herzog said yes, as did every party leader, except Netanyahu and United Torah Judaism chairman Ya’acov Litzman. When it became clear that Netanyahu would not participate, Herzog responded that he would not join a debate that did not include the prime minister.
The Jerusalem Post
challenged all the party leaders to a debate in English on Wednesday after Herzog agreed.