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Israel's centrist party leader Benny Gantz speaks to reporters as he arrives on a flight via Zurich ahead of his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, at Dulles International Airport near Washington, on January 26, 2020. Photo by Joshua Lott/Reuters

Netanyahu challenger’s failed company faces criminal probe

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli prosecutors say they are opening a criminal investigation into the failed start-up of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s challenger, shaking up what has already been a tumultuous election campaign.

In a statement released Thursday night, Israel’s Justice Ministry said Israeli police will conduct the investigation into “Fifth Dimension.” The statement did not say whether opposition leader Benny Gantz is a suspect.

Gantz’s Blue and White Party is in a tight race with Netanyahu’s Likud. The March 2 vote comes just two weeks before Netanyahu’s corruption trial is to begin.

Throughout the campaign, Gantz has tried to focus all attention on Netanyahu’s legal troubles and presented himself as an honest and scandal-free alternative.

Earlier on Thursday, Gantz denied wrongdoing following reports of the pending investigation into his firm’s financial dealings.

“It all sounds like political pressure to get this thing on the public’s agenda,” Gantz told Israel’s Army Radio. “I am totally at ease. This was checked in the past and no criminal suspicion was found.”

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