Germany and Israel strongly denounced, Wednesday, August 17, the remarks of the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who in Berlin compared the Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories occupied with the Holocaust.
The 87-year-old leader, in Germany for his medical follow-up, spoke on Tuesday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in particular about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and bilateral cooperation. Asked at the end of a joint press conference about the bombing of the 1972 Munich Olympics, which killed eleven Israelis and was carried out by a Palestinian commando, Mr. Abbas replied:
“From 1947 to today, Israel has committed fifty massacres in fifty Palestinian cities, (…) fifty massacres, fifty holocausts and even today, there are deaths caused by the Israeli army every day. »
“We want peace, we want security, we want stability, (…) we have to develop trust between us”added the president of the Palestinian Authority, also denouncing the policy “apartheid” of Israel.
On Tuesday, Mr. Scholz said the term ” apartheid” was not a “correct description of the situation” in the Palestinian territories, without, however, reacting to Mr. Abbas’ remarks on the Holocaust. What he finally did on Wednesday. “I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas”tweeted in the morning the head of the German government, adding: “For us, Germans in particular, any relativization of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. »
Abbas sought to “clarify” his position
The German Chancellor himself was criticized, mainly by the conservative opposition and some media, for not reacting immediately to Mr. Abbas’ statements during the press conference which ended directly after this response.
“Abbas relativizes the Holocaust… and Scholz is silent”, headlined the popular daily Picture. “It is surprising and disconcerting that the German side was not prepared for the provocations of Mr. Abbas, whose statements remained without contradiction”commented Christoph Heubner, vice-president of the international committee of Auschwitz.
Mr. Abbas regularly uses the terms “genocide” Where “apartheid”, as well as the human rights NGOs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to describe the occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territories. But he rarely resorts to words “Holocaust” Where “Holocaust”.
On Wednesday, the remarks of Mr. Abbas – sometimes with strong statements against Israel but often accused by Palestinians of collaborating with the Jewish state – aroused great indignation in Israel. “Mahmoud Abbas accusing Israel of having committed “fifty holocausts” while on German soil is not only a moral disgrace but a monstrous lie (…), history will never forgive him”condemned Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. “Those who seek peace (…) must not distort reality and rewrite history”commented Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Dani Dayan, the president of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, condemned “despicable statements” and one “inexcusable behavior” to which “the German government must respond appropriately”.
Faced with these reactions, the Palestinian leader said he wanted ” clarify “ his position. His statements “did not intend to deny the uniqueness of the Holocaust” who remains the “worst hate crime of the modern era”reported his office. “The president did not deny the massacres suffered by Jews under Nazi Germany, but he told the world not to lose sight of the massacres inflicted on the Palestinian people”Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh added.