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Amid furor, Abbas retracts ‘holocausts’ claim, says he meant Israeli ‘crimes’

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday walked back the widely condemned accusation he made a day earlier that Israel had committed “50 holocausts” against Palestinians over the years, claiming he had merely been intending to highlight Israeli “crimes.”

Abbas’s remark, made during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, was roundly lambasted in Israel, the United States and Germany, including by Scholz himself, who was criticized for remaining silent during the press conference.

Following the uproar, Abbas issued a statement released by the Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA news agency, affirming that “the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern human history.”

The presidency said Abbas was “stressing that his answer was not intended to deny the singularity of the Holocaust that occurred in the last century,” and was “condemning it in the strongest terms.”

The statement added: “What is meant by the crimes that President Mahmoud Abbas spoke about are the crimes and massacres committed against the Palestinian people since the Nakba at the hands of the Israeli forces. These crimes have not stopped to this day.”

Nakba, or catastrophe, is the Palestinian term for the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the ensuing displacement of local Arabs.

The Ynet news site reported, without citing sources, that Abbas’s statement was published following “heavy pressure” from Israel, with Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office conveying strongly worded messages that the remark was unacceptable and demanding that it be retracted.

Other Hebrew media outlets said Prime Minister Yair Lapid had spoken with senior Abbas aide Hussein........

© The Times of Israel

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