Mahmoud Abbas apologises for Holocaust speech

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"We condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms and confirm our commitment to the two-state solution, and to (living) side by side in peace and security". News reports suggest that Abbas had linked the Holocaust to financial practices of Jews at the time.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas apologised Friday over alleged anti-Semitic comments that drew global condemnation.

In his statement, Abbas also stated the holocaust is the "most heinous crime in history" and denounced anti-Semitism.

In an editorial entitled, "Let Abbas's vile words be his last as Palestinian leader, the paper said, "Mr. Abbas's vile speech was a new low and by succumbing to such dark, corrosive instincts he showed that it is time for him to leave office".

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The European Union's foreign service condemned remarks on the Holocaust by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as "unacceptable", echoing criticism on Wednesday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the speech, which Abbas described as a "history lesson" - he said that the "social function" of the Jews of Europe (specifically "usury and banking and such") was what led to the animosity that fueled their extermination.

Palestinian President Abbas's comments were deeply concerning.

United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov said on Twitter Abbas had expressed "contemptuous anti-Semitic slurs". Citing books written by various authors, Abbas argued: "They say hatred against Jews was not because of their religion, it was because of their social profession. President Abbas is a man of peace who has dedicated his entire political career to finding a just and lasting peace based on global law, freedom, justice, equality and coexistence between Israel and Palestine".

Abbas, 82, was earlier elected the PLO chief following a four-day meeting by the top legislative body that was boycotted by the Islamist group Hamas. His doctoral thesis, "The Connection Between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement 1933-1945", was completed in 1982 for the Peoples' Friendship University of Russian Federation, and published in 1984 as an Arabic book, The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism. One of the bill's sponsors, MK Avi Dichter was quoted while discussing the bill: "Anyone who does not belong to the Jewish nation can not define the State of Israel as his nation-state".