Minister for Senior Citizens Uri Orbach (Jewish Home) had harsh words on Wednesday evening for the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, after his speech to the Knesset earlier.
Members of the Jewish Home faction walked out of the plenum when Schulz falsely accused Israel of limiting water to Palestinian Arabs and of imposing a “siege” on Gaza.
“It’s never pleasant to hear lies, and it’s even less pleasant when they are uttered in German,” Orbach told Arutz Sheva.
“I remarked after Schulz’s speech that what is common between the generation of his parents and the generation of the Arab MKs’ parents is that the generation of his parents didn’t want us there (in Germany), and the generation of the Arab MKs’ parents didn’t want us here,” he added.
Schulz’s comments, said Orbach, are proof “that we should trust only ourselves and not rely on others.”
Orbach made similar comments on his Facebook page, noting that leftist MKs were outraged by the comparison he made and demanded that he take back what he said.
“I don’t care,” wrote Orbach, adding, “The false European and Arab propaganda wants us to withdraw from our land by using excessive descriptions regarding the ‘misery’ of the Palestinians and the horrors of the 'occupation.' The speech of the president of the European Parliament was downright ugly and our faction did right by leaving the plenum.”
The head of Orbach’s party, Minister Naftali Bennett, has demanded that Schulz retract his "anti-Israel" statements and issue an apology.
"I am completely prepared to hear criticism from friends. I am not prepared to remain silent in the face of lies. That is why I left the plenum together with my party,” said Bennett. "I'm hoping we'll hear an apology for those statements."
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.
In an attempt to calm the storm, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein told Schulz on Wednesday evening that he was wrong about what he said about there being a “siege” on Gaza.
"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.”