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Israeli MKs storm out during EU parliament chief's speech

Feb. 13, 2014 12:55 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 24, 2014 11:18 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Right-wing Israeli MKs stormed out of the Knesset on Wednesday during a speech by European Parliament President Martin Schulz, accusing the EU official of propagating "lies" about Palestinian water consumption.

During an address to the Israeli Knesset, Schulz told MKs that the EU would always stand by Israel's side and mentioned the importance of remembering the Holocaust.

A day earlier, the German official had said that the EU would not boycott Israel.

But comments about the disparity between Israeli and Palestinian water consumption and Israel's seven-year blockade of the Gaza Strip prompted a walk-out by members of the far-right Jewish Home party.

Party leader Naftali Bennett demanded on Facebook that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "demand an immediate correction in the name of honor of the State of Israel," Ynet reported.

"I will not accept an untrue sermon on morality directed at Israel in Israel's parliament. Definitely not in German," he added.

Speaking to German newspaper Die Welt on Thursday, Schulz expressed surprise at the reaction as he claimed to have given a "pro-Israel speech."

Several MKs decided to boycott Schulz's speech in advance on the basis that he was to address the Knesset in German.

Likud official Moshe Feiglin wrote on Facebook: "I see no value in having the parliament of the Jewish state hear a speech in the language used to force our parents onto trains and into furnaces."

In reaction to the walkout, Israeli rights group B'Tselem released a statement on Wednesday describing "undeniable discrimination" in the amount of water allocated to Palestinians.

"Yes, there is discrimination in water allocation and Israeli citizens receive much more water than Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip," a statement said.

"The Government of Israel is largely responsible for this discrimination due its water policy."

According to The Emergency Water, Sanitation and Hygiene group, or EWASH, Israelis, including settlers, have access to 300 liters of water per day while the West Bank average is around 70 liters, below the World Health Organization's recommended minimum of 100 liters per day for basic sanitation, hygiene and drinking.

In the south Hebron hills, average water consumption varies between 10-60 liters per day, similar to consumption levels in sub-Saharan Africa or Haiti.
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