Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a scathing attack against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday morning for his speech the day before that relied on classic antisemitic slogans connecting Jews with money lending.
Abbas' views on the Holocaust have long been suspect because of his academic work, in which he gave space to an argument that disputed the death of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, claiming that less than one million were killed.
"Abu Mazen [Abbas] gave another antisemitic speech,” Netanyahu said.
In a display of “ignorance and insolence, he claimed that the Jews of Europe were persecuted and murdered not because they were Jews, but because they engaged in interest-bearing loans,” Netanyahu said.
“Abu Mazen once again recites the most despicable antisemitic slogans.
Abbas “was a Holocaust denier and has remained a Holocaust denier,” Netanyahu said.
“I call on the international community to condemn Abu Mazen's grave antisemitism,” Netanyahu continued and added that it's time for such antisemitism to disappear from the world.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi), reacting to Abbas' speech, said Wednesday that the Palestinian leader was "drenched in antisemitism from head to toe."
"Abbas’s body is drenched with antisemitism, from head to toe. He continues the tradition of his predecessors, the Grand Mufti who was a friend of Hitler, and Arafat, an arch-murderer of Jews," he said.
"He fills the minds of the next generation with the poison of antisemitism. Peace will come from the public, not from a corrupt and antisemitic Palestinian Authority,” he said.
In a speech at a meeting of the Palestinian National Council, Abbas alleged that European Jews were massacred for centuries because of their "social behavior related to usury and banks."
"From the 11th century until the Holocaust that took place in Germany, the Jews – who moved to Western and Eastern Europe – were subjected to a massacre every 10 to 15 years. But why did this happen?" Abbas said on Monday, before interjecting, “The Jewish issue that was widespread in all European countries... was not because of their religion, but rather their social behavior related to usury and banks.”
Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) also condemned Abbas's remarks on Wednesday.
"The antisemite is out of the bag. Mahmoud Abbas, a small and irrelevant man, has revealed in the last few days... what he truly thinks of the State of Israel and Jews. The man, who funds families of terrorists who massacred and are massacring us, will go down in history as a Holocaust denier, racist and inciter, if at all," said Edelstein.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said Abbas revealed his true nature when speaking in Arabic, rather than English.
"The Holocaust-denying Mahmoud Abbas revealed in Arabic what he hides in English: that he is the head of those inciting against the existence of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel," said Hotovely.
"Someone who continually claims that the Jewish State is a colonialist enterprise, spreads hatred and works to prevent peace in the Middle East can certainly not be a partner for peace, but instead a force that makes it more unattainable," she said.
Writing on Twitter on Tuesday, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman castigated Abbas's speech as a "new low," and said his remarks show that Israel is not responsible for the continued failure of American-led efforts to secure a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump's Special Representative for International Negotiations, also condemned the speech.
"President Abbas’ remarks yesterday in Ramallah at the opening of the Palestinian National Congress must be unconditionally condemned by all. They are very unfortunate, very distressing & terribly disheartening. Peace cannot be built on this kind of foundation," Greenblatt wrote on Twitter.
While peace is made between enemies and not between friends, and Israel must make peace with the Palestinians, MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union) said, there is a difference between fighting for Palestinian rights and being "the worst type of antisemite."
"Peace is made with enemies, but there is a great distance between fighting for Palestinian rights and being the worst type of antisemite," Michaeli said in a statement. "Abu Mazen [Abbas's nickname] must apologize and retract his terrible statements."Adam Rasgon and Samuel Thrope contributed to this article.
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