Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas apologises for suggesting Jews were to blame for the Holocaust and calls the genocide the ‘most heinous crime in history’
- Abbas suggested ‘social function’ of Jews in banking had led to past massacres
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Abbas of anti-Semitism
- Today Abbas condemned anti-Semitism and apologised for his comments
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas apologised today after he came under fire for suggesting the Holocaust and persecution of Jews were caused by their role in banking and money lending.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had accused the Palestinian leader of anti-Semitism after Abbas suggested in an address to the Palestinian National Council that the ‘social function’ of Jews had led to past massacres.
But Abbas, 82, today condemned anti-Semitism and called the Holocaust the ‘most heinous crime in history’ in a statement issued by his office in Ramallah.
The statement said: ‘If people were offended by my statement in front of the PNC, especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologise to them.
‘I would like to assure everyone that it was not my intention to do so, and to reiterate my full respect for the Jewish faith, as well as other monotheistic faiths.’
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (pictured), 82, apologised today after he came under fire for suggesting the Holocaust and persecution of Jews were caused by their role in banking
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had accused the Palestinian leader of anti-Semitism after Abbas suggested the ‘social function’ of Jews had led to past massacres
Israel’s foreign ministry had on Wednesday accused him of fueling ‘religious and nationalist hatred against the Jewish people and Israel.’
Netanyahu added on Twitter: ‘It would appear that, once a Holocaust denier, always a Holocaust denier. I call upon the international community to condemn the grave anti-Semitism of Abu Mazen (Abbas), which should have long since passed from this world.’
He added: ‘Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, gave another anti-Semitic speech. With utmost ignorance and brazen gall, he claimed that European Jews were persecuted and murdered not because they were Jews but because they gave loans with interest.’
David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, said Abbas had reached a ‘new low’ while President Donald Trump’s envoy Jason Greenblatt said ‘peace cannot be built on this kind of foundation.’
The comments came after Abbas, who has faced accusations of anti-Semitism before, suggested in an address to a rare meeting of the Palestinian National Council on Monday night that Jews’ relations with banking had led to hostility against them.
‘From the 11th century until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, those Jews – who moved to Western and Eastern Europe – were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years. But why did this happen? They say ‘it is because we are Jews’,’ he told the hundreds of delegates.
He then cited ‘three books’ written by Jews as evidence that ‘hostility against Jews is not because of their religion, but rather their social function,’ adding he meant ‘their social function related to banks and interest.’
He contrasted this with Jews in Arabic countries, who he argued had not faced similar persecution.
Friedman said on Twitter late on Tuesday Abbas had ‘reached a new low in attributing the cause of massacres of Jewish people over the years to their ‘social behaviour relating to interest and banks.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the Palestinian president of anti-Semitism after Mahmud Abbas suggested Jews were to blame for the Holocaust
‘To all those who think Israel is the reason that we don’t have peace, think again,’ he added.
Greenblatt said the comments were ‘very unfortunate, very distressing & terribly disheartening,’ calling for them to be ‘unconditionally condemned by all.’
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told AFP Abbas’s ‘anti-Semitism’ was ‘all the more shocking considering that he presents himself as wanting to make peace with Israel.’
The European Union condemned Abbas for ‘unacceptable remarks’.
‘The speech Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered on 30 April contained unacceptable remarks concerning the origins of the Holocaust and Israel’s legitimacy,’ a spokesman for the EU’s diplomatic service said in a statement.
‘Such rhetoric will only play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated.’
The row comes as relations between the US and the Palestinian leadership have broken down over the controversial American plan to move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The move, which is due to be completed on May 14, sparked major protests by Palestinians, who consider east Jerusalem their capital, and led Abbas to cut off ties with Trump’s administration.
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