Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued an apology on Friday to those who "were offended" by his anti-Semitic speech earlier this week in which he blamed the "social function" of Jews for the Holocaust.
Abbas, speaking in front of the Palestinian National Council in the West Bank on Monday, delved into several other anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and accused Zionists of cooperating with Adolf Hitler to establish the modern state of Israel. The comments were not out of character for Abbas, whose 1982 doctoral dissertation, "The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism," called the death toll of the Holocaust exaggerated.
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Nevertheless, Abbas' latest speech caused international outrage, drawing condemnation from Israel, the United States, and the European Union. The New York Times called for him to resign for the "vile" address.
In a statement, Abbas conditioned his apology to those people who "were offended" by his remarks and said he has "full respect for the Jewish faith."
"If people were offended by my statement in front of the PNC, especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them," he said. "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."
"I would also like to reiterate our long held condemnation of the Holocaust, as the most heinous crime in history, and express our sympathy with its victims," Abbas added. "Likewise, we condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms, and confirm our commitment to the two-state solution, and to live side by side in peace and security."
The most inflammatory portions of Abbas' initial speech were not included in the official Palestinian news agency's English press release about his address, the Times of Israel reported, and his speech elaborated on past Jewish conspiracy theories he has made publicly.
In a speech in January, Abbas had indicated that European Jews during the Holocaust chose to undergo "murder and slaughter" over emigration to British-held Palestine. On Monday, he said, "Their narrative about coming to this country because of their longing for Zion, or whatever—we're tired of hearing this. The truth is that this is a colonialist enterprise, aimed at planting a foreign body in this region."
He then added that European leaders such as the United Kingdom's Lord Arthur Balfour restricted the immigration of Jews to their countries while simultaneously promoting the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel.
The 1917 Balfour Declaration endorsed the idea of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel.
"Those who sought a Jewish state weren't Jews," Abbas said, repeating a claim he made in January when he said that the State of Israel was formed as "a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism" to safeguard European interests.
In January, Abbas spoke in front of the Palestine Liberation Organization about what he called a centuries-long conspiracy between Europeans, British, Americans, and Jews to steal Palestinian land. He also defended the Palestinian Authority's longstanding practice of making bounty payments to terrorists and their families.