Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized on Wednesday for mocking his main rival and Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz for stuttering when asked about his achievements in the past two years.
Delivering a speech at the opening of the Likud election campaign, Netanyahu ridiculed Gantz, portraying him as a person who stammers.
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“My words yesterday referred to the fact that Gantz has no achievements, that he has nothing to offer to the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu tweeted, adding that “in contrast to the way this was presented by the media, my words did not refer to people with disabilities, and if anyone was offended, I’m very sorry.”
Netanyahu drew criticism from an Israeli organization advocating on behalf of individuals who stutter and opposition politicians after imitating Gantz during Tuesday's event.
In addition, Netanyahu said in his speech that Israel will soon apply its sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea region. “Not only will we not uproot anyone, we’ll apply Israeli law to every Israeli settlement [in the West Bank] without exceptions.”
Netanyahu, Israel's longest serving prime minister, seeks a fourth consecutive term in office, but twice failed to form a government in two inconclusive votes in 2019. He now faces a third parliamentary election after being indicted on corruption charges in November.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.