(JTA) — Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas apologized to Jewish people offended by his recent speech in which he blamed the Holocaust on Jews.
“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 sent Friday by his office, the Times of Israel reported.
“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 long 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.”
“Likewise, we condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms, and confirm our commitment to the two-state solution, and to live side by side in peace and security,” he said.
Abbas’s speech has been criticized as anti-Semitic by various political figures in Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the European Union and Germany, among others. The New York Times called for Abbas’s resignation in an editorial Wednesday.
In his speech, he said: “From the 11th century until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, those Jews — who moved to Western and Eastern Europe — were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years.”
This “anti-Jewish [sentiment] was not because of their religion, but because of their function in society, which had to do with usury, banks, and so on,” he said in his speech at the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah on April 30.
Abbas Apologizes For Holocaust Speech Blaming Jews