European Parliament Chief Slams Israeli Critics in Knesset as 'Extremists'

Martin Schulz: My speech was pro-Israel; John Kerry was similarly attacked.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz on Thursday denounced the Israeli lawmakers who criticized his speech in the Knesset a day earlier as "extremists."

"I presented to the Knesset the position of the European parliament," Schulz told the German daily Die Welt, after his question regarding limits to Palestinian water consumption triggered a walkout by the right-wing party Habayit Hayehudi.

"Naturally, I cannot only say things that would be pleasant to everyone's ears. I must also present the controversial side of the things."

In a speech delivered in his native German to Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday, Schulz said, "A Palestinian youth asked me why an Israeli can use 70 cubic liters of water and a Palestinian just 17. I haven't checked the data. I'm asking you if this is correct."

After the walkout, Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett demanded an apology from Schulz for his "lies."

"Silence in the face of lying propaganda grants legitimacy to activities against Israeli citizens," Bennett said.

In an interview with Die Welt following the incident, Schulz defended his speech and lambasted his detractors.

"I was surprised and hurt by the harsh reaction because the speech I delivered was pro-Israel," he said. "The ones who disrupted my address belong to an extremist party who respond that way to any criticism that bothers them. [U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry was similarly attacked."

Following the speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Schulz of "selective hearing" for repeating the unverified Palestinian claim.

Reuters