Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) on Wednesday evening told the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, that he had been mistaken in his remarks at the Knesset earlier.
Speaking to Schulz before the two sat down for a formal dinner in Jerusalem, Edelstein explained to Schulz that he was wrong about what he said about there being a “siege” on Gaza. It was for this reason, explained Edelstein, that enraged MKs from the Jewish Home stormed out of the plenum.
"Incorrect facts that are sounded every day are later used as weapons in the delegitimization campaign against Israel, and we must be wary of them," said Edelstein.
He told Schulz that "there is no siege in Gaza. Since Israel withdrew from the region, its citizens are forced to sit in shelters under missile attacks.”
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.
Earlier, Edelstein said that while Schulz's words were wrong, it was not right for Knesset Members to walk out on him.
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.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded from the Knesset plenum to the furor surrounding Schulz’s speech, saying the European President had not bothered to check the facts.
"The President of the European Parliament visited Ramallah and heard there data about water usage, according to which Israeli citizens consume more than four times the amount of water per-capita compared to Palestinians," said Netanyahu.
However, he 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.