Netanyahu accuses Palestinian leader Abbas of anti-Semitism

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas gestures as he chairs a Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas gestures as he chairs a Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman ripped Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, after Abbas said in a speech the Holocaust was not caused by anti-Semitism, but by the "social behavior" of the Jews, including money-lending.

"He stated that the Holocaust was not a result of anti-Semitism, but the fault of Jewish "social behavior", and "[charging] interest and financial matters", and asserted that Adolf Hitler had actually facilitated the immigration of Jews to Israel. But why did this happen?

"Abu Mazen (Abbas) chose to respond".

"It was not due to their religion", he said, "but because of [the practice of] lending money [at interest] and banking".

He contrasted this with Jews in Arab countries, who he argued had not faced similar persecution. Even basic acquaintance with Jewish history would teach Abbas not only that the Jews pursued, then and now, a wide variety of professions and occupations, but that the majority of them at that time were impoverished.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, appealed to the worldwide community to condemn Abbas's "severe anti-Semitism; the time has come for it to pass from the world".

"Abbas' speech in Ramallah are the words of a classic anti-Semite", said Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper of the US -based Jewish human rights organization the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

In yet another long and disoriented rant, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday took his anti-Semitic sentiment to a new level.

He added: "President Abbas has shown a commitment to non-violence and a two-state solution".

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USA and Israeli officials on Wednesday slammed remarks by the Palestinian president about the causes of 20th century anti-Semitism in Europe.

The United Nations' special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, said in a statement that "leaders have an obligation to confront anti-Semitism everywhere and always, not perpetuate the conspiracy theories that fuel it".

Greenblatt said the comments were "very unfortunate, very distressing & terribly disheartening".

Abbas has often rejected a Jewish connection to Israel, biblical or otherwise. In that short-lived arrangement, over 60,000 German Jews immigrated to Palestine during the 1930s, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Abbas reiterated that he would not accept an American peace deal in the wake of the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv later this month.

Friedman and Abbas have sparred before. "Is that anti-Semitism or political discourse?"

The European Union said in a statement that the Palestinian president's speech "contained unacceptable remarks concerning the origins of the Holocaust and Israel's legitimacy".

He gave no source for the accusation, but said it was part of a wider Israeli campaign of incitement against Palestinians.

Ms Thornberry did slam the comments in a later statement after reports on Mr Abbas' three-hour speech spread around the world.

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