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New York Times Editorial Board Calls for Abbas to Step Aside After Anti-Semitic Rant

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas / Getty Images
• May 3, 2018 9:44 am

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The New York Times editorial board on Wednesday called for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to step down, citing his latest anti-Semitic speech and loss of support among the Palestinian people.

Abbas spoke in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday at a gathering of the Palestinian legislative body, where he said Jews brought the Holocaust and other persecution upon themselves because of their "social roles related to taxes and banks." The Times called it a "vile" address and "a new low."

"No doubt he feels embittered and besieged on all sides. But by succumbing to such dark, corrosive instincts he showed that it is time for him to leave office," the board wrote.

The Times said Abbas' feeding of "anti-Semitic myths and conspiracy theories" has shed all his credibility as a "trustworthy partner" if the Israelis and Palestinians try another round of peace talks.

The editorial gave a brief history of Abbas' rise and laid blame on Israel's "hardline" government for some of Abbas' woes in the West Bank, but concluded he "oversees a governing system plagued by corruption and dysfunction" and "has lost support among the Palestinian people."

The Times also slammed the Palestinian leader for "overstaying his term by many years." Abbas is famously in the 13th year of a four-year term.

He has weakened government institutions that are essential for a future state and refused to call new elections, thus overstaying his term by many years and preventing younger leaders from emerging.

He has also failed to unify the Palestinians in the West Bank, where his Fatah faction dominates, with those in the even more desperate circumstances of the Gaza Strip, where Hamas holds sway.

Abbas' latest words were widely condemned. The left-wing, pro-Palestinian organization J Street blasted Abbas for his "incendiary" rhetoric, and former Secretary of State John Kerry called his comments "wrong, ugly, and unacceptable."

"He's blown up bridges for his own personal participation in the efforts to achieve Palestinian political aspirations," former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told CNN. "His time as a Palestinian leader who can be considered a possible partner for any kind of peace negotiation is over."

Trump administration officials also condemned the remarks as harmful to peace efforts, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas was and remains a Holocaust denier.

Abbas' hostile rhetoric against Jews is not new, however. In December, Abbas delivered a speech in Turkey blasting the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and declared the Jewish history of the city false, the Washington Free Beacon reported at the time.

During his speech, delivered before an Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Turkey on Wednesday, Abbas called on countries to end their recognition of Israel, claimed the Jewish history of Jerusalem is false, and declared there will be "no peace in the region and in the world" without a Palestinian state and Jerusalem as its capital.

In January, Abbas spoke before the Palestine Liberation Organization about a centuries-long conspiracy between Europeans, British, Americans, and Jews to steal Palestinian land, and he defended the PA's longstanding practice of bounty payments to terrorists and their families.

Published under: Israel, Mahmoud Abbas, New York Times