Abbas apologizes for anti-Semitic remarks

The Palestinian leader, reportedly under intense pressure from diplomats, apologized for his anti-Semitic rant.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has issued an apology following a speech he made to the Palestinian National Council this week widely condemned as anti-Semitic.

Abbas had said it was the Jews’ “social functions,” including money-lending, that caused hatred toward them in Europe. He also said there was no historical “basis for the Jewish homeland.”

The speech drew criticism around the world that Abbas perpetuated anti-Semitic stereotypes and ignored deep Jewish historical connections to the Holy Land. The New York Times called on him to resign.

Palestinian officials say Abbas was under intense pressure from diplomats to apologize. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not authorized to talk to the media.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted Abbas as saying on Friday that “if people were offended by my statement … especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them.”

“I condemn the Holocaust, which was the most heinous crime in human history,” Abbas added.

“I would like to assure everyone that it was not my intention to do so, and to reiterate my full respect for the Jewish faith, as well as other monotheistic faiths,” he said.