JERUSALEM — The Palestinian chief, Mahmoud Abbas, accused Israel of finishing up “50 Holocausts” of Palestinians as he stood alongside the German chancellor in Berlin, then walked the feedback again on Wednesday within the face of a global outcry from leaders and officers who denounced the remarks as antisemitic Holocaust denial.
Mr. Abbas, the 87-year-old president of the Palestinian Authority, was talking throughout a joint information convention with Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany on Tuesday evening. The remark that triggered the uproar was a response to a reporter who requested Mr. Abbas if he was able to apologize for the killings of 11 Israeli athletes by the Palestinian Black September group on the Munich Olympics in 1972.
Germany is planning to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Munich terrorist assault within the fall.
Mr. Abbas replied that Israel had dedicated 50 massacres in Palestinian-populated areas from 1947 till in the present day, including for emphasis, “50 massacres; 50 Holocausts,” utilizing the English time period for the Nazi genocide throughout World Warfare II.
Mr. Abbas has been accused of antisemitism and Holocaust distortion greater than as soon as earlier than and below his management of the Palestinians, peace talks with Israel have been stalled for years. The Israeli public has lengthy since ceased to view him as a peace associate.
Nonetheless, he and his forces keep a decent system of safety coordination with Israel and Israeli officers have credited Mr. Abbas with tamping down violence. However Mr. Abbas has additionally misplaced favor with a lot of the Palestinian public, seen as more and more authoritarian and out of contact. He has averted holding presidential elections and is now within the 18th yr of what was purported to be a four-year time period.
In Berlin on Tuesday evening, Mr. Scholz grimaced when Mr. Abbas made his remarks, in response to native media reviews from the scene, however didn’t instantly upbraid or contradict the Palestinian chief and the information convention was dropped at a swift finish.
Quickly after, the German chancellor strongly condemned Mr. Abbas’s phrases and on Wednesday morning, he tweeted in English, German and Hebrew to say he was “disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.”
He went on to say: “For us Germans particularly, any relativization of the singularity of the Holocaust is insupportable and unacceptable. I condemn any try and deny the crimes of the Holocaust.”
Prime Minister Yair Lapid of Israel additionally decried Mr. Abbas’s feedback as “not solely an ethical shame, however a monstrous lie. Six million Jews had been murdered within the Holocaust,” he mentioned, “together with one and a half million Jewish kids. Historical past won’t ever forgive him.”
Benny Gantz, Israel’s protection minister, who hosted Mr. Abbas at his dwelling in central Israel just a few months in the past, described the Palestinian chief’s phrases as a “despicable and false” try “to distort and rewrite historical past.”
And Deborah Lipstadt, the US particular envoy for monitoring and combating antisemitism, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Abbas’s statements had been unacceptable.
“Holocaust distortion can have harmful penalties and fuels antisemitism,” she wrote.
Outraged Israeli officers reached out early Wednesday to Palestinian counterparts with the message that Mr. Abbas ought to retract or make clear his remarks.
The Palestinian chief issued a clarification of his remarks afterward Wednesday that was carried by the official Palestinian information company, Wafa.
It didn’t embody an express apology, however mentioned that Mr. Abbas reaffirmed that the Holocaust “is essentially the most heinous crime in fashionable human historical past” and mentioned his remarks in Berlin had been “not meant to disclaim the singularity of the Holocaust.”
The clarifying assertion went on to say that Mr. Abbas had been referring to “the crimes and massacres dedicated towards the Palestinian folks” by the hands of Israeli forces over the previous 75 years.
“These crimes haven’t stopped to this present day,” it mentioned.
Over the previous yr, the Israeli authorities has made some concessions to the Palestinians, corresponding to increasing the variety of permits permitting folks to cross day by day from the occupied West Financial institution and the Gaza Strip to work in Israel and growing engagement with Palestinian Authority officers.
However after a wave of terrorist assaults within the spring that killed no less than 19 Israelis and foreigners, Israel has escalated its army operations within the West Financial institution with nightly arrest raids that typically finish in clashes and exchanges of fireside.
For the reason that starting of the yr, Israeli forces have shot and killed 31 Palestinians, together with six minors, throughout search-and-arrest operations within the West Financial institution, in response to the United Nations.
Final week, Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza from the group Islamic Jihad reached a cease-fire to finish three days of combating that left dozens of Palestinians useless, together with kids in addition to militant commanders, and which noticed a whole lot of rockets fired from Gaza into Israeli territory.
Ehud Olmert, a former Israeli prime minister who met with Mr. Abbas 36 occasions in 2007 and 2008 in an finally useless try to achieve a complete Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, welcomed Mr. Abbas’s clarification.
However he mentioned in an interview that in Berlin, Mr. Abbas had made “a dramatic mistake, which touches essentially the most delicate nerve within the nationwide ethos of the state of Israel and the Jewish folks.”
On the information convention, Mr. Abbas additionally accused Israel of working towards apartheid, a cost that was rejected in actual time by Mr. Scholz.
Some right-wing Israeli politicians tried to attain political factors forward of Israel’s Nov. 1 election by mocking Mr. Gantz, a centrist, for internet hosting Mr. Abbas in his dwelling. Mr. Gantz, a former military chief of employees, retorted that individuals who haven’t despatched troopers into battle ought to “not preach about conferences that prevented or are stopping the following battle.”
This was not the primary time Mr. Abbas has been accused of antisemitism and Holocaust revisionism.
In his 1983 e book, “The Different Aspect: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and the Zionist Motion,” primarily based on his doctoral thesis, Mr. Abbas argued that Zionist leaders colluded with the Nazis to worsen the circumstances of Jews in Europe with the intention of spurring them to immigrate to Palestine.
The e book additionally questioned the determine of six million Jewish Holocaust victims, claiming that the quantity might have been lower than a million.
Mr. Abbas later mentioned that he was merely quoting an argument amongst historians over the numbers. In 2014, on the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, he issued a proper assertion calling the Holocaust “essentially the most heinous crime to have occurred towards humanity within the fashionable period” and expressing sympathy with victims’ households.
However in 2018, talking to a gathering of his Palestine Liberation Group in Ramallah, he delivered a speech laced with antisemitic tropes, together with the declare that the Jews of Europe introduced persecution and the Holocaust upon themselves by participating in usury and banking. Mr. Abbas later apologized.
Hiba Yazbek contributed reporting.