Palestinians defend Abbas Holocaust remarks, slam Israeli ‘incitement'

Fatah posted a photo of a smiling Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on social media with a caption reading: “Mr. President, you are strong."

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in Berlin, Germany, August 16, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in Berlin, Germany, August 16, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER)

Several influential Palestinians on Wednesday expressed support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been facing widespread criticism after he accused Israel of perpetrating “50 holocausts” and practicing “apartheid,” during his visit to Germany.

The ruling Fatah faction posted a photo of a smiling Abbas on social media with a caption reading, “Mr. President, you are strong. Continue with God’s blessing and rest assured. We are proud of you and we are all behind you.”

Monir al-Jaghoub, a senior Fatah official, dismissed demands to Abbas to apologize for his statements. “No apology for our struggle for freedom,” said al-Jaghoub, who heads Fatah’s recruitment and organization department in the West Bank.

“President Abbas’s statements are not self-invention. Palestinians should not remain silent towards the war against President Abbas, whose words represent every Palestinian inside and outside the homeland.”

Hassan Asfour, a former PLO negotiator with Israel 

Munther al-Hayek, another senior Fatah official, said Abbas’s remarks in Germany were designed to “remind the world of the suffering of the Palestinian people, who deserve an apology for the crimes committed against them.”

 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands as they attend a news conference, in Berlin, Germany, August 16, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER) German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands as they attend a news conference, in Berlin, Germany, August 16, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER)

Earlier, Abbas issued a statement in which he “reaffirmed that the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern human history.”

According to the statement, Abbas did not intend to “deny the singularity of the Holocaust,” and was only referring to “crimes and massacres committed against the Palestinian people since the Nakba [catastrophe – the term Palestinians use to describe the establishment of Israel in 1948] at the hands of the Israeli forces. These crimes have not stopped to this day.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid's response

The PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced Prime Minister Yair Lapid for attacking Abbas for his statements in Germany.

Responding to Abbas’s accusation, Lapid said, “Mahmoud Abbas accusing Israel of having committed ‘50 Holocausts’ while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace but a monstrous lie. Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, including one-and-a-half million Jewish children. History will never forgive him.”

The PA ministry said that Lapid’s statement “is an attempt to protect the false narrative that Israel is promoting to mislead the world about the conflict, history and geography.”

Lapid’s statement, the ministry added, indicates that Israel “has no intention to apologize for the crimes and massacres it committed against our Palestinian people.”

Two senior PLO officials, Bassam Salhi and Tayseer Khaled, also came out in support of Abbas’s remarks.

“Abu Mazen’s [Abbas’s] statements in Germany that Israel has and continues to commit holocausts against the Palestinian people are truthful and express the position of the Palestinians,” Salhi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and head of the Palestinian People’s Party, formerly the Palestinian Communist Party, wrote on Facebook.

Salhi accused Israel of waging a ferocious campaign of incitement against the PA president.

Khaled, a senior official of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and also a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said Abbas “did not miss the point when he told the German Chancellor that Israel has committed 50 holocausts.”

“The state of hysteria in Israel and the angry reactions against the president’s statements during his visit to the German capital were expected,” Khaled remarked. “What is infuriating is the use of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews to justify the Israelis’ crimes against the Palestinians.”

Khaled also lashed out at Lapid for attacking Abbas.

“Yair Lapid, be careful, your hands are stained with Palestinian blood,” the PLO official said in a statement. “You [Israel] have committed more than 50 holocausts. We challenge you to open your country’s archives about the crimes of the Israeli army so that the world would know that President Abbas did not miss the point in his statements.”

The Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, a political party that is part of the PLO, also condemned Israel for waging a “renewed campaign of incitement” against Abbas.

“The Palestinian people are not responsible for crimes committed by another people,” the group said. “The Palestinian people suffer from continuous war crimes by the occupation. The campaign of incitement coincides with the upcoming Israeli elections.”

Hassan Asfour, a former PLO negotiator with Israel and editor-in-chief of the Palestinian Amad news website, also defended Abbas.

“President Abbas’s statements are not self-invention,” Asfour said. “Palestinians should not remain silent toward the war against President Abbas, whose words represent every Palestinian inside and outside the homeland.”