During his visit to Berlin, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of a “Holocaust” against the Palestinians. “Israel has committed 50 massacres in 50 Palestinian locations since 1947 to this day,” said Abbas on Tuesday at a joint press conference with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in the Chancellery. “50 massacres, 50 holocausts,” he added.
Scholz followed the statements with a petrified expression, visibly annoyed and also made preparations to reply. His spokesman Steffen Hebestreit declared the press conference over immediately after Abbas’ reply. The question to the Palestinian President had previously been announced as the last. Hebestreit later reported that Scholz was outraged by Abbas’ statement.
After the appointment, Scholz rejected the “Holocaust” accusation in clear words. “Especially for us Germans, any relativization of the Holocaust is unbearable and unacceptable,” said the Chancellor of the “Bild” newspaper.
Prior to his controversial statement, Abbas was asked by a journalist if he would apologize to Israel on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Israeli Olympic team by Palestinian terrorists in Munich. Abbas said there were dead people killed by the Israeli army every day. “If we want to continue digging into the past, yes please.” Abbas did not respond to the Olympic attack in which eleven Israelis were killed.
Scholz had previously criticized Abbas on the open stage for describing Israeli politics as an “apartheid system”. “I want to say explicitly at this point that I do not adopt the word apartheid and that I do not think it is right to describe the situation,” said Scholz.
Abbas had previously said the “transformation into the new reality of a single state in an apartheid system” does not serve security and stability in the region.
In addition, Abbas called on the EU and the United Nations (UN) to fully recognize the Palestinian state. Currently, the Palestinians only have observer status at the UN. However, Scholz rejected Abbas’ request. Germany continues to support a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, he said.
“It’s not the time to change this situation,” said Scholz about observer status at the UN. Further steps would have to be based on a negotiated solution with Israel. Abbas accused Israel of preventing this for a long time. The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians has been idle since 2014.
Israeli Prime Minister Jair Lapid also clearly rejected Abbas’ accusation of the Holocaust. “That Mahmoud Abbas accuses Israel of committing ’50 holocausts’ while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace but a blatant lie,” Lapid wrote on Twitter on Tuesday evening, referring to the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. History will never forgive Abbas. Lapid is himself the son of a Holocaust survivor.
The International Auschwitz Committee has sharply criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ accusation of the Holocaust against Israel and a hesitant reaction on the part of Germany. Executive Vice-President Christoph Heubner said late Tuesday evening that the President had “purposefully used Berlin’s political stage to defame the German culture of remembrance and the relationship with the State of Israel. With his shameful and inappropriate comparison to the Holocaust, Abbas has once again attempted to cater to anti-Israel and anti-Semitic aggression in Germany and Europe.”
Heubner also criticized the federal government. “It is astonishing and strange that the German side was not prepared for Abbas’ provocations and that his statements on the Holocaust in the press conference went unchallenged,” said Heubner in Berlin.
Criticism of Scholz’s reaction also comes from the opposition. “An incredible process in the Chancellery,” wrote CDU leader Friedrich Merz on Twitter on Tuesday evening. The chancellor “should have contradicted the Palestinian president in no uncertain terms and asked him to leave the house!” he argued.
CDU MP Matthias Hauer said: “Of course, Chancellor Olaf Scholz could and should have contradicted the Palestinian President after the relativization of the Holocaust. To remain silent after such a blunder is unforgivable.”