MK Ya’akov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), explained on Thursday that he refused an invitation to participate in a televised debate ahead of March elections in order to prevent Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid from continuing his “incitement” against haredim.
Earlier this week, Channel 2 News invited all the leaders of the various parties to a televised debate, and it was reported that, in addition to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Litzman was the only other invitee not to respond.
Litzmann confirmed he would not be attending on Thursday, saying he does not want to give a prize to Lapid by attending.
“I decided not to go to this debate. There is no reason to give Yair Lapid the opportunity to continue his incitement against the haredim as he always does, as a substitute for a discussion of his failure in government,” he said.
“Participation by a representative of United Torah Judaism in the debate will cause Mr. Lapid to divert the discussion away from the burning issues of the day, led by the economic crisis which occurred when Yesh Atid was on duty in the Treasury, Lapid’s failure to deal with the cost of living and increasing poverty, the harsh social inequalities, foreign and security issues, and the health care system which is collapsing,” said Litzman.
Netanyahu has already said he would be willing to consider a televised debate upon his return from his upcoming trip to Washington, where he will address Congress.
"The Prime Minister is now busy stopping the emerging dangerous agreement with Iran, preparing for his trip to the United States and in state affairs. The Prime Minister will consider the proposal to hold a televised debate with the candidates of the left, Buji (Herzog) and Tzipi (Livni), upon his return from the United States,” the Prime Minister’s Office said on Wednesday.
It should be noted that televised debates ahead of elections were held in Israel prior to the elections for the 9th Knesset and before the next five elections. In 1999, however, Ehud Barak declined to participate in a debate (he ultimately went on to defeat Netanyahu in the elections). Subsequent prime ministers continued to refuse to do so as well, leading to the cancellation of the practice.