Abbas apologizes for speech widely panned as antisemitic

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expressed remorse on Friday to anyone offended by a statement he made earlier this week, in which he said but rather their “social role related to usury and banks.”

“If people were offended by my statement in front of the PNC, especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them. 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,” Abbas said in a statement, referring to the Palestinian National Council, a top Palestine Liberation Organization body which convened between Monday and Thursday.

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The PA president’s statement, however, did not include a retraction of his remarks on his take on European Jewish history.

Earlier this week, Abbas was about his perspective of European Jewish history by the European Union’s foreign service, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, many Jewish organizations, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov and several other foreign leaders and bodies.

Abbas was also slammed by The New York Times editorial board on Thursday, which called on him to resign, and John Kerry on Wednesday, who described his comments as "wrong, ugly and unacceptable."

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

“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…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 PA president said.

Many of the groups that condemned Abbas for his statements on his take of European Jewish history accused him of making “anti-Semitic” remarks.