Germany's Next Foreign Minister Once Accused Israel of Depriving Palestinians of Water

Martin Schulz caused a stir in 2014 when he grilled the Knesset on the matter of Palestinian access to drinking water, triggering a walkout by right-wing legislators

Social Democratic chief Martin Schulz, left, speaking with Christian Democratic leaders Horst Seehofer and Chancellor Angela Merkel, Berlin, February 2, 2018.
John Macdougall / AFP

The leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, Martin Schulz, will become foreign minister in the new coalition government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, Bild Zeitung reported Wednesday, giving no sources.

Schulz made headlines in Israel in February 2014 when, addressing the Knesset, he questioned Israel’s water policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians, triggering a walkout by the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party.

“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,” Schulz told the Knesset.

After the walkout, Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett demanded an apology from Schulz for his “lies,” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Schulz of “selective hearing, which unfortunately has become the legacy of many groups in Europe.”

Still, analysts of the European Parliament, which Schulz headed at the time, said the Social Democrat was actually more interested in targeting voters in Europe than in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Christian Democrats and Social Democrats came in first and second in Germany’s September election, and coalition talks have dragged on since. The far-right Alternative for Germany party greatly improved its position and came in third.