Despite ongoing criminal investigations into hate speech, the federal government is publishing the controversial statements by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the Holocaust without comment on its website “bundesregierung.de”. The presentation on the official website is expressly “in the wording” without insertions or additions and is freely accessible as a “conference transcript”.
At the same time, “bundesregierung.de” – elsewhere, at the front of the homepage – reproduces a statement by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), according to which he rejects Abbas’ statements: “Our position is clear, we condemn every attempt to end the Holocaust to deny or to put it into perspective.” Abba’s words are also reprimanded as “unspeakable statements”. The government initially left unanswered a request from the Tagesspiegel as to how the two representations in the portal fit together.
At the press conference in the Chancellery on Tuesday, Abbas compared Israeli attacks on Palestinian settlements to the Holocaust. According to the version taken over by the simultaneous interpreter on “bundesregierung.de”, he said verbatim: “Since 1947 to the present day, Israel has committed 50 massacres in 50 Palestinian villages and towns, in Dair Yassin, Tantura, Kafr Kassim and many others, 50 massacres, 50 holocausts.”
Afterwards, Scholz and government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit were criticized for not contradicting Abbas immediately in the current press conference. Hebestreit said on Wednesday that the Chancellor was “outraged and appalled by Mr Abbas’s words”. A relativization of the Holocaust with its more than six million dead is completely unacceptable. He himself sees it as a “mistake” to end the press conference after Abbas’ speech. “I wasn’t quick enough and I wasn’t alert enough to react to it.”
The publication of press conference transcripts is a service of the federal government. It is not yet known exactly when the transcript of August 16 was first published online. It is also questionable how the presentation was able to get online without comment, although Scholz and Hebestreit said their omission was clear as soon as the press conference ended. Now, as in the press conference itself, Abbas’ words remain unchallenged even when the transcript is reproduced on a permanent basis.
As the Berlin public prosecutor’s office confirms on request, they are currently examining whether investigations initiated by the police into sedition are being continued. According to Section 130 of the Criminal Code, it is a punishable offense to downplay the mass murder of Jews during the Nazi era. However, it is unclear whether Abbas can be prosecuted for this. A provision in the Courts Constitution Act stipulates that representatives of other states who are in Germany at the official invitation of the Federal Republic are not subject to German jurisdiction. It is questionable whether Abbas can be regarded as a representative of a Palestinian state in this sense. Although the federal government maintains diplomatic relations, it does not recognize Palestine as a state.