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PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas Accuses Israel of ‘Holocausts’ Against Palestinians at Joint Press Conference With German Chancellor

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shakes hands with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a joint news conference in Berlin. Photo: Reuters/Lisi Niesner

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas caused an uproar on a visit to Germany on Tuesday when he answered a journalist’s query about an apology for the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics with a claim that Israel was guilty of perpetrating “holocausts” against the Palestinians.

Speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Abbas was asked about an apology for the murder of 11 Israeli athletes who were taken hostage by terrorists from the radical Palestinian “Black September” organization, as Germany marks the 50th anniversary of the atrocity.

“Israel has committed 50 massacres in 50 Palestinian locations from 1947 to the present day,” Abbas responded. “Fifty massacres, 50 holocausts.” At no point did the Palestinian leader specify which “massacres” he was referring to, and nor did he mention the Munich massacre, the subject of the question.

German media coverage of the press conference highlighted the country’s sensitivity to the use of the word “holocaust” as a descriptor for events other than the Nazi extermination of six million Jews during World War II.

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Many outlets focused on the absence of a verbal response from Scholz to Abbas’s remarks, emphasizing at the same time that the German Chancellor was visibly displeased by what he heard.

“Instead of contradicting (Abbas), Scholz took off his headphones, irritated, shook hands with Abbas and left the room with him,” the right-wing tabloid Bild commented. “Not a word of dissent in the face of the worst relativization of the Holocaust that a head of government has ever uttered in the chancellor’s office.”

A spokesperson for Scholz explained to Bild that “before the Chancellor could contradict this outrageous sentence, the government spokesman had already ended the press conference – as usual after the last question/answer block – which visibly annoyed Scholz.” The spokesperson added that “the journalists who were still present could not help noticing the Chancellor’s annoyance, how outraged the Chancellor was about the statement, and also that he had not had the opportunity to openly contradict one more time.”

Scholz later released his own statement, telling Bild: “Especially for us Germans, any relativization of the Holocaust is unbearable and unacceptable.”

Scholz also told the press conference in the presence of Abbas that he rejected the Palestinian labeling of Israel as an “apartheid state.”

“Naturally we have a different assessment with a view to Israeli politics, and I want to expressly say here that I do not espouse the use of the word apartheid and do not think it correctly describes the situation,” he said.

 

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