Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the Holocaust "the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era" in an interview with Palestinian news agency WAFA published on Sunday morning.
He went on to describe the Holocaust as “a reflection of the concept of ethnic discrimination and racism, which the Palestinians strongly reject and act against.”
The statement was the Palestinian leader's first official offering of condolences for the Holocaust, according to The New York Times.
Abbas has been accused of being a Holocaust denier by Israeli officials in the past, mainly due to claims made in his doctoral dissertation, published as a book in 1983, titled The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.
In it, he wrote “the Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed” and claimed that only some 890,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis and that these were chiefly the victims of a Zionist-Nazi plot.
Abbas backtracked from his statements in the the book in a 2011 interview where he said that he did “not deny the Holocaust” and that he had “heard from the Israelis that there were six million” victims, adding, “I can accept that,” reported the Times.
Last week in Ramallah during a meeting with Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas referred to the Holocaust as “the single greatest tragedy in modern-day history.”
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