Daily Israel Report

Steinitz: Jewish Home Was Wrong to Walk Out on Schulz

Strategic Affairs Minister says Jewish Home response to Martin Schulz's speech was "disproportionate".
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/16/2014, 2:25 AM

Minister Yuval Steinitz
Minister Yuval Steinitz
Chen Galili

Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz on Saturday criticized the Jewish Home party’s behavior last week during the speech in the Knesset of the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.

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 Hamas-ruled Gaza. In response, Jewish Home MKs walked out of the plenum and the party’s chairman, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, demanded that Schulz apologize.

"What happened was tragic-comic," Steinitz said. “In addition to a speech with many parts that were pro-Israeli, he had a little slip-up in data and facts. The response of the Knesset members and ministers who walked out was miserable and disproportionate in my opinion.”

Last week, following the incident with Schulz, Steinitz said that the water consumption in the Palestinian Authority (PA) is similar to the average in the Arab world and should not be compared to the average consumption in Israel, where the standard of living is higher.

"And yet,” he added, “Schulz is a friend of Israel, he opposes the boycott on it and in his speech, he also brought positive things.”

Steinitz's revelations come on the same day as it was also revealed that the statistics Schulz quoted were inaccurate even according to the Palestinian Authority's own records.

European officials said following the incident that Schulz was offended by the MKs who stormed out of the Knesset during his speech, adding that Schulz was “surprised and hurt” and stressed that “he is a friend of Israel” who came to Jerusalem to "express support for Israel and strengthen it."

Schulz himself told the German Die Welt magazine on Thursday that the MKs who walked out were nothing but  “extremists". He added that he was surprised by the criticism leveled at him following the speech, which he said was "pro-Israeli."

He added, "The people who criticized me belong to a party that behaves the same way every time it is criticized. Secretary of State Kerry received the same reaction from them."