Palestinian President Abbas causes outrage in Germany with Holocaust remarks

Palestinian President Abbas causes outrage in Germany with Holocaust remarks
3 min read
17 August, 2022
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was condemned by German leaders on Wednesday following comments that compared Israel's crimes against Palestinians to the Nazi Holocaust.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Berlin on Tuesday [source: Getty]

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz voiced "disgust" at remarks by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the German leader said diminished the importance of the Holocaust, while Israel accused Abbas of telling a "monstrous lie".

"For us Germans in particular, any relativisation of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable," Scholz tweeted on Wednesday. "I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas."

During a visit to Berlin on Tuesday, Abbas accused Israel of committing "50 Holocausts" in response to a question about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics by Palestinian militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid also condemned the comments as a "disgrace".

"Mahmoud Abbas accusing Israel of having committed '50 Holocausts' while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie," Lapid said on Twitter.

"History will never forgive him."

Six million Jews were killed in Nazi Germany's Holocaust.

Standing alongside Scholz, Abbas referred to a series of historical incidents in which Palestinians were killed by Israelis in the 1948 war that accompanied the creation of the state of Israel and in the years following.

The mass displacement of Palestinians from 1947 to 1949, known as the Nakba, involved the forced transfer of around 750,000 indigenous Palestinians from their villages and homes. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are still unable to return to their ancestral lands. 

"From 1947 to the present day, Israel has committed 50 massacres in Palestinian villages and cities, in Deir Yassin, Tantura, Kafr Qasim and many others, 50 massacres, 50 Holocausts," said Abbas.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said Lapid's comments were intended to divert attention from Israel's "crimes".

In a statement, the ministry said "the occupying power is not satisfied with committing these crimes on a daily and continuous basis, but also does not tolerate and rejects any talk or statements that remind the Israelis and the international community of the many crimes committed by Israel".

Abbas' comment followed months of tension and a brief conflict this month during which 49 people were killed in Gaza after Israel carried out a series of air strikes in response to what it said was an imminent threat from the militant Islamic Jihad group. 

Dozens of those killed in the recent violence were children, including five minors murdered outside a Gaza cemetery. 

Scores of Palestinians have also been killed in clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. 

Palestinians seek statehood in territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Negotiations have been frozen since 2014. 

Agencies contributed to this report.