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US, France, Germany condemn Mahmoud Abbas' antisemitic comments

Washington's antisemitism envoy has accused the Palestinian leader of distorting the Holocaust.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas speaks during a high-level event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nakba at the United Nations headquarters in New York on May 15, 2023. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The chorus of condemnation over Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' comments about Ashkenazi Jews and the Holocaust grew Thursday, with the United States slamming the Palestinian leader's comments as “hateful and antisemitic.” 

US Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt urged Abbas to apologize, tweeting that she was “appalled" while accusing the Palestinian leader of distorting the Holocaust.

In an address to a Fatah meeting last month, Abbas said Adolf Hitler had ordered the killing of Jews because of their "social role.” A translation of his remarks by the Middle East Media Research Institute surfaced this week. 

“The truth that we should clarify to the world is that European Jews are not Semites,” Abbas said. “They have nothing to do with Semitism.”

He added, “So when we hear them talk about Semitism and antisemitism, the Ashkenazi Jews, at least, are not Semites.”

European diplomats also condemned Abbas' statements on Thursday. In a statement, the European Union said the speech "contained false and grossly misleading remarks about Jews and anti-Semitism" and added that it hurts the prospects for a two-state solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

"Such historical distortions are inflammatory, deeply offensive, can only serve to exacerbate tensions in the region and serve no-one’s interests. They play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated for," wrote the EU's diplomatic service.

German Ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert similarly criticized Abbas in a Wednesday tweet, writing that the Palestinian people deserve better from their president.

The French consulate in Jerusalem also issued a statement via Twitter on Thursday condemning Abbas. "We condemn them and consider them totally unacceptable," it read.

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