Earlier, the Bayit Yehudi walked out of Schulz's speech, with MKs Orit Struck and Motti Yogev yelling "Palestinians are liars" and "shame." Soon after, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett called for Schulz to apologize for lying.
The prime minister said Schulz "suffers from the same selective listening as many Europeans" in repeating a Palestinian claim about water, adding that "even the Palestinian Water Authority says the discrepancy is much smaller." "Schulz admitted that he didn't check if what he said is true, but he still blamed us. People accept any attack on Israel without checking it. They plug their ears," Netanyahu said in the plenum.
"Water isn't a good topic for attacking Israel," he added. "[When Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke in the Knesset,] MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta'al) was very concerned about MK Taleb Abu-Arar (UAL-Ta'al) and said he doesn't have water and electricity, but then we saw his house has water and electricity and a satellite dish."
Tibi and Abu-Arar shouted, but Netanyahu responded: "You say it's so bad here [in Israel], but then when there's a proposal for your towns to be in a Palestinian state, you complain. I guess it's not that bad here." Netanyahu credited Schulz for saying Europe will not boycott Israel and that there should be cooperation in research, but also pointed out that the European Parliament President said Iranians called to destroy Israel "until recently," when, in fact, the prime minister cited a case when it happened this week.
Bennett demanded that Schulz "take back his lies," and called for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to make the same demand.
"When he said Palestinians get 17 liters of water for every 70 Israelis get, it was a total lie. It's preposterous," Bennett told The Jerusalem Post after the Bayit Yehudi walked out of Schulz's speech. "All the ministers were perplexed. I stayed quiet at first, but then he criticized the Israeli blockade on Gaza and said it caused pain to the Gazans." "Did he forget that we expelled 8,000 Jews from Gaza? This week I worked on helping the evacuees. Did he forget that [Gazans] shoot thousands of missiles at us? And then he criticizes us about the very place we vacated?" Bennett asked.
"Our national honor as the State of Israel isn't mine or the ministers'. It belongs to all of the people of Israel," he stated. "I won't sit in the Knesset and hear a European, certainnly not a German, saying such things." The Bayit Yehudi leader said that when he noticed no one else was protesting, he instructed his faction to walk out quietly, though some only listened to the first part.
According to Bennett, the Bayit Yehudi were "the only ones who stood up for our national honor." "I thought Schulz would express the EU's regular criticism about Israel in the West Bank. He started out speaking nicely about the Holocaust, he showed a lot of empathy. He spoke about the importance of peace, and I get it, he's not in the Bayit Yehudi," Bennett recounted.
"We can accept criticism, but we cannot live with lies." The Bayit Yehudi leader pointed out that Schulz quoted Edmund Burke as saying "the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." "He could criticize us, even sharply, but to tell lies and expect me to be quiet? It won't happen," Bennett stated.
The exact statement Schulz made, which caused the uproar, was: "A young Palestinian asked me why Israelis can use 70 liters of water and Palestinians only 17. I didn't check the data. I'm asking you if it's right." In response to Schulz’s allegations, Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor simply said, “The figures are wrong.”
According to Water Authority data, West Bank Palestinians had 127,000 liters of available fresh water per capita per year in 2009, while Israelis had 154,000 liters of water per capita per year. Of the available fresh water in 2009, the Water Authority said that the Palestinians consumed 95,000 liters per capita per year, while Israelis consumed 137,000 liters per capita per year in 2009.
"The generation of Schulz's parents and the generation of the Arab MKs' parents collaborated to destroy the Jews." "I want to remind the members of the Bayit Yehudi that, despite their efforts, we still live in a democratic country where we can and should hear criticism in any language. Using the Holocaust to not deal with international criticism is ridiculous," MK Zehava Gal-On said.
Labor MK Merav Michaeli pointed out that while the Bayit Yehudi is opposed to hearing criticism in German, they're happy for the IDF to get submarines from Germany.
Edelstein gave Schulz the benefit of the doubt, saying that someone must have misled him.
"The European Parliament is an important guest and his speech wasn't given to a censor. No one knew what he was going to say," Edelstein stated. "Our president spoke to the European Parliament and no seats were empty and no one walked out. They found other ways [to criticize him]. I'm not here to educate anyone, but we should think about that."
Referring to US President Barack Obama, Edelstein said "how will we be able to complain about someone who prefers to speak to university students instead of the Knesset, because he knows he'll be heckled?" In his speech, Schulz said he understands the sensitivity of allowing him to speak in the Knesset in German, adding that his generation has the responsibility to make sure the atrocities perpetrated by his country to the Jewish people will never happen again.
Schulz also spoke out against anti-Semitism in Europe, the central theme of Edelstein's speech, which preceded the European Parliament President's address.
"The European Union will always stand by the State of Israel. Israel is a hope that came true for the Jewish people to live freely in its land. The dream became reality through courageous people," Schulz stated.
"Israeli society is built on the values of freedom and democracy, which tie it to Europe. Israel is a strong democracy with a modern economy. You made the desert bloom and Israeli research leads in many areas." In addition, Schulz said Iran cannot be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons, but the way to prevent that form happening is via diplomacy.
The European Parliament President called for "painful concessions" to make peace, saying "a new window of hope is open" and commending US Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts.
Schulz called for a halt to settlement construction, calling them an obstacle to a solution.
As for European attempts to boycott Israel, Schulz said: "There is no boycott and no boycott is under consideration. I believe we need to cooperate." Similarly, on Tuesday night, upon receiving an honorary doctorate from Hebrew University, Schulz said: “Boycott is a very tough word. To boycott means to completely block cooperation and trade between countries. We are not speaking about such a boycott." As he answered questions from reporters on the possibility of a European boycott of Israel, he noted that this was the “thirteenth time today that I am asked” about this issue.
He acknowledged that there is a debate in Europe about issuing consumer guidelines to inform consumers about products that are produced in West Bank settlements.
But, he said, “There is no concrete position of the European Union or its institutions for a boycott of Israel or Israeli products.”
“My personal view is that a boycott is not a solution for anything,” Schulz said.
“And therefore, as president of the European parliament I was strongly in favor, for example, of upgrading the scientific cooperation between the European Union and Israel,” Schulz said.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.