Palestinian President apologises to Jewish people after Holocaust comments - Kogonuso

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May 6, 2019

Palestinian President apologises to Jewish people after Holocaust comments

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has apologised after being widely condemned for making antisemitic comments about the Holocaust.

The 82-year-old leader suggested during a speech on Monday that the mass murder of Jews was caused by their involvement in money lending.

He was accused of "severe antisemitism" by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and criticised by officials from the US, EU and UN.
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Mr Abbas condemned antisemitism "in all its forms" on Friday after being re-elected as chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's executive committee.

"If people were offended by my statement... especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologise to them," he said.

"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.

"I would also like to reiterate our long held condemnation of the Holocaust, as the most heinous crime in history, and express our sympathy with its victims.

"Likewise, we condemn antisemitism in all its forms, and confirm our commitment to the two-state solution, and to live side by side in peace and security."

His apology was quickly rejected by Israeli defence minister Avigdor Liberman, who branded him "a wretched Holocaust denier".

Mr Abbas' original comments were made on live TV during his opening address to the PLO parliament in Ramallah.

Referring to books by "Jewish Zionist authors", he said: "I will bring you three Jews, with three books who say that enmity towards Jews was not because of their religious identity but because of their social function.

"This is a different issue. So the Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion but against their social function which relates to usury and banking and such."

Mr Abbas went on to claim Israel was a European colonial project and that "history tells us there is no basis for the Jewish homeland".

He also said that Ashkenazi Jews, such as Mr Netanyahu and many other Israeli prime ministers, "have no relation to Semitic people".

Mr Abbas has a history of making controversial comments about the Holocaust. In 2003 it emerged he had written a dissertation for his doctorate in history in 1982 which cast doubt on the scale of the genocide and argued there had been a secret relationship between Zionism and Nazism before the Second World War.
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