European Parliament head surprised by Knesset walkout of ‘extremists’

(JTA) — European Parliament President Martin Schultz told a German newspaper he was surprised that Israeli lawmakers walked out during his speech to the Knesset.

Schultz told the German newspaper Die Welt on Thursday that he was “surprised and hurt by the harsh reaction because the speech I delivered was pro-Israel.”

He called the members of the Jewish Home Party, who walked out in the middle of the after he criticized Israel using incorrect facts, “extremists.”  Party head Naftali Bennett called on Schultz to apologize for his misstatements.

“Naturally, I cannot only say things that would be pleasant to everyone’s ears. I must also present the controversial side of the things,” Schultz told Die Welt, adding that he “presented to the Knesset the position of the European parliament.”

Speaking in his native German, Schultz accused Israel of allowing its citizens to use four times the amount of water per person that is allocated to Palestinians, a figure that reportedly is very inflated. He also criticized the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Schultz also said during his speech that there is no European economic boycott of Israel, and that the European Union will always stand by Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later criticized Schultz for what he called “selective hearing.”

“He said that he visited Ramallah and heard from Palestinian youth that an Israeli citizen uses four times as much water as a Palestinian,” Netanyahu said of Shultz. “According to both the Palestinian water authority and our data, this number is not true, and is significantly smaller,” the prime minister said. “The parliament president said, in all honestly, ‘I didn’t check.’ But that didn’t prevent him from casting aspersions.”