Conservative Israeli leaders walked out of a speech by the president of the European Parliament at the Knesset this week, after the politico accused the Jewish state of spreading lies.
Members of Naftali Bennett’s rightwing Jewish Home party exited the Knesset during Martin Schultz’s speech, as the European head criticized Israel’s Gaza blockade and said Israel permits its citizens to use four times more water than Palestinians.
Benjamin Netanyahu used the opportunity to accuse Schultz of “selective hearing,” with the Israeli prime minister adding, “He said that he visited Ramallah and heard from Palestinian youth that an Israeli citizen uses four times as much water as a Palestinian.”
“According to both the Palestinian water authority and our data, this number is not true, and is significantly smaller. The parliament president said, in all honestly, ‘I didn’t check.’ But that didn’t prevent him from casting aspersions.”
Bennett later called on Schultz to apologize, while Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat told Haaretz, “This speech will be spread all around the world as though this is true. When he says these things, and in German yet, it’s no wonder that Knesset members and ministers are objecting to these comments.”
Schultz also said that Europe is not systematically boycotting the Jewish state.
“The European Union will always stand at the side of the State of Israel,” he said. “As for the economic boycott, there is no boycott, and I can tell you that such a boycott is not being considered.”
Following criticism for his address, Schultz defended himself, calling the criticisms a “harsh reaction.”
“Naturally, I cannot only say things that would be pleasant to everyone’s ears. I must also present the controversial side of the things,” Schultz told Die Welt, a German paper, adding that he “presented to the Knesset the position of the European parliament.”