Published: Sat, May 05, 2018
Technology | By Russell Knight

Palestinian President Apologises For Alleged Anti-Semitic Remarks

Palestinian President Apologises For Alleged Anti-Semitic Remarks

After facing widespread condemnation for his recent comments, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas issued an apology for blaming the Holocaust on the Jews.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted Abbas as saying on Friday that "if people were offended by my statement ... especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them". "I want to emphasize that I had no intention to offend, and I again emphasize their respect for Judaism and every other religion", reads the statement, published on Friday, may 4.

"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", Abbas added. "The Palestinian authority condemns the anti-Semitism of any kind and reiterates its commitment to the two States".

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations' special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said Abbas used his speech "to repeat some of the most contemptuous anti-Semitic slurs".

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Israeli officials had no immediate comment on Abbas' statement of apology on Friday.

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. In that book, which is based on his doctoral thesis from 1982 for the Moscow Oriental Studies Institute, Abbas also accused the Zionist leadership of complicity in the Holocaust, which he says Zionists saw as a vehicle for increasing Jewish immigration into what was then the British Mandate over Palestine.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas adjusts his glasses during a news conference with Canada's Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon (not pictured) at the Lester B. Pearson building in Ottawa May 25, 2009.

The United States has twice blocked draft statements at the council expressing concern about the violence in Gaza, in which almost 50 people have been killed by Israeli forces.

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David Friedman, US ambassador to Israel, said Abbas had reached a "new low", while President Donald Trump's envoy Jason Greenblatt said "peace can not be built on this kind of foundation".

He has called on Abbas to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

Mr Trump ordered the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which will take place on May 15, on the anniversary of what the Palestinians call Nakba Day, the commemoration of their "day of catasrophe".

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