Mahmoud Abbas apologises, condemns anti-Semitism

Mahmoud Abbas apologises, condemns anti-Semitism

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas heads a Palestinian cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah July 28, 2013.On Friday he apologized for a speech in which he said the persecution of Jews was due to their conduct not their religion.

Abbas, 82, made the comments during a wide-ranging speech on Monday in Ramallah, West Bank, which drew condemnation from the U.S. and the European Union as well as PM Netanyahu.

He said that "if people were offended by my statements in front of the PNC, especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them", Xinhua news agency reported. "I want to emphasize that I had no intention to offend, and I again emphasize their respect for Judaism and every other religion", reads the statement, published on Friday, may 4.

He added: "We condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms and reaffirm our commitment to a two-state solution".

Global leaders, Jewish groups and Israeli leaders widely accused Abbas of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Israeli and USA officials rushed to condemn his comments in the speech on Monday.

Abbas "is a pathetic Holocaust denier who wrote a doctorate about Holocaust denial and then a book about Holocaust denial", he said, citing past works that had already led to accusations of anti-Semitism.

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Mr Abbas and Palestinian officials have refused to cooperate with the administration of US President Donald Trump, who they perceive to be the most pro-Israeli American leader since its creation in 1948.

"No Israeli prime minister can negotiate with someone who holds views like Abu Mazen", Shlomo Avineri, a professor emeritus of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said after the speech, referring to Mr. Abbas by his nickname. "They say "it is because we are Jews".

Abbas suggested on Monday that the historical prosecution of the Jews in Europe was caused by their "social functions" in society, including money-lending. He also described the creation of Israel as a European colonial project, saying "history tells us there is no basis for the Jewish homeland".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas adjusts his glasses during a news conference with Canada's Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon (not pictured) at the Lester B. Pearson building in Ottawa May 25, 2009.

The proposed statement would express the council's "serious concern" about Abbas' remarks, which "included vile anti-Semitic slurs and baseless conspiracy theories, and do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people or peace in the Middle East".

He has called on Abbas to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

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