Abbas Apologizes for Holocaust Remarks

Mahmoud Abbas apologises for speech that stirred international criticism

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued an apology Friday following uproar over a speech he made this week that was condemned as anti-Semitic and dismissive of Jewish historical connections to the Holy Land.

Abbas apologized over the remarks delivered in an address to the Palestinian National Council, but a US-drafted statement called on the president to "refrain from anti-Semitic comments".

"If someone is offended with my words, especially the representatives of the Jewish faith, I apologize".

"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", he said.

Abbas, who has always been accused of Holocaust denial for his doctoral thesis claiming secret ties between Zionists and the Nazis, also condemned the Holocaust "as the most heinous crime in history". "The Palestinian authority condemns the anti-Semitism of any kind and reiterates its commitment to the two States".

Nevertheless, Abbas' latest speech caused worldwide outrage, drawing condemnation from Israel, the United States, and the European Union.

In speech on April 30, Abbas told the Palestinian National Council that Jews living in Europe has suffered massacres "every 10 to 15 years in some country since the 11th century and until the Holocaust".

Israeli and United States officials rushed to condemn his comments in the speech on Monday.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Abbas "recited the most contemptible anti-Semitic canards". "They say "it is because we are Jews".

And former US secretary of state John F. Kerry, who participated in months of peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials, said Abbas's comments Monday were "wrong, ugly and unacceptable".

Citing books written by various authors, Abbas said: "They say hatred against Jews was not because of their religion, it was because of their social profession".

He also reiterated claims that Israel was a colonial project encouraged by European leaders who wanted to be rid of their Jewish populations.

"To all those who think Israel is the reason that we don't have peace, think again", he wrote on Twitter.

Abbas' remarks drew an unusual burst of condemnation even from those who once considered him a moderate who could lead Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

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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