Abbas apologizes for comments decried as anti-Semitic

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued an apology on Friday over remarks that were perceived as anti-Semitic and which drew global outrage.

His remarks before Palestinian lawmakers in Ramallah on Monday sparked widespread condemnation and reignited accusations that Abbas is a Holocaust denier.

He said that "if people were offended by my statements in front of the PNC, especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them", Xinhua news agency reported.

He added: "We condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms and reaffirm our commitment to a two-state solution".

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations' special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said Abbas used his speech "to repeat some of the most contemptuous anti-Semitic slurs".

"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".

Israeli and USA officials rushed to condemn his comments in the speech on Monday.

In the introduction to his 1984 book titled "The Other Aspect: The Secret Ties Between the Nazis and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement", Abbas wrote about the figure of 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust: "In truth, no one can refute or confirm this number".

Amnesty accuses Egypt of'torture in solitary confinement
Amnesty accuses Egypt of'torture in solitary confinement

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a tweet that Abbas "recited the most contemptible anti-Semitic canards".

But the Palestinians say they are willing to live side-by-side with Israel if they are given equal rights, hundreds of thousands of settlers are removed from Palestinian land and if they have the opportunity to build a sovereign state founded on the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

He also reiterated claims that Israel was a colonial project encouraged by European leaders who wanted to be rid of their Jewish populations.

He then cited "three books" written by Jews as evidence that 'hostility against Jews is not because of their religion, but rather their social function, ' adding he meant 'their social function related to banks and interest'.

Foreign officials also said Abbas's words undermined his call for an independent Palestinian state.

Mr Abbas and Palestinian officials have refused to cooperate with the administration of US President Donald Trump, who they perceive to be the most pro-Israeli American leader since its creation in 1948.

'The speech Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered on 30 April contained unacceptable remarks concerning the origins of the Holocaust and Israel's legitimacy, ' a spokesman for the EU's diplomatic service said in a statement.

He has called on Abbas to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

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