By Ari Soffer
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded Wednesday from the Knesset plenum to the furor surrounding EU Parliament President Martin Schulz’s speech to the Knesset. Schulz roiled many MKs when he accused Israel of discriminating against Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria when allocating water resources, and of imposing a “siege” on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip—accusations slammed as “lies” by Israeli officials.
“The president of the European Parliament visited Ramallah and heard data about water usage, according to which Israeli citizens consume more than four times the amount of water per capita compared to Palestinians.” However, the prime minister added, “according to the checks and data which we have received, this number is incorrect and [the differences are] considerably smaller.”
The prime minister noted that Schulz admitted to not having bothered to check the figures himself, but said that apparently that did not prevent him from attacking Israel anyway. Netanyahu claimed the incident illustrated the “selective hearing” of European diplomats. “They hear, they don’t check, and they hurl accusations,” he said.
Meanwhile, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said that while Schulz’s words were wrong, it was not right for Knesset members to walk out on him—as MKs from the Jewish Home party did. Edelstein said that actions like that make it likely that other diplomats will refuse to speak in front of the Knesset in the future out of fear of being heckled, and thereby undermining its influence on the international stage. “If they don’t want to [come], they don’t need to; no guests will come and the Knesset will not play any role in the international arena,” he warned.
But Jewish Home MKs remain unapologetic; party head Naftali Bennett condemned Schulz’s comments as “lies,” and demanded an apology.
And other MKs didn’t mince their words. “When the president of the European Parliament spits on you, you cannot just remain silent, wipe your face and call it rain,” MK Orit Struk said. “It is unprecedented gall to stand up in the Knesset of Israel and proceed to slander the entire body of elected officials and the entire Jewish people—in German!” (Arutz Sheva) v