Abbas apologizes amid accusations of Holocaust denial

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The European Union said in a statement that the Palestinian president's speech "contained unacceptable remarks concerning the origins of the Holocaust and Israel's legitimacy".

The UK and France on Thursday condemned Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas' recent speech, which included anti-Semitic rhetoric and blamed Jews for the atrocities of the Holocaust.

"If people were offended by my statement in front of the [Palestinian National Council], especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them", Abbas said in a statement from his office.

"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".

In Abbas' speech, the Palestinian leader stated, "Jews who moved to east and west Europe were facing a massacre every 10 or 15 years from a different country".

Abbas' comments in front of Palestinian leaders on Monday drew widespread global condemnation.

But regardless of whether Abbas is shamed into doing so, the relevant question is, how can Israel negotiate peace with the Palestinians, when the negotiators for the Palestinians are a Holocaust denier on the one hand and a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel, and the Jews, on the other? They say "it is because we are Jews'".

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He said, "The hatred of the Jews is not due to their religion but rather due to their social role".

The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial said in a statement that Abbas' speech was "replete with antisemitic tropes and distortions of historical facts" and accused the Palestinian president of "blatantly falsifying history to the point of accusing the Jewish victims as being responsible for their own murder".

Abbas's expected reappointment came at the end of a four-day meeting by the Palestinian National Council (PNC) in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

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And in a strongly worded editorial, calling the remarks "vile", the New York Times said it was time for Abbas to step down as Palestinian leader. Israel has long accused the Palestinian leadership of anti-Semitism, saying one thing to its Palestinian audience and another to the global community. "Such rhetoric will exclusively play into the fingers of those that are not looking for a two-state resolution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated".

He then immediately apologised for remarks he'd made at the start of the meeting that led many to accuse him of anti-Semitism.

Abbas has been roundly condemned by United States officials, the European Union, Israel officials, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, UN officials, and even left-wing organizations that usually support him.

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