The Berlin Police have launched a preliminary investigation into Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas over his use of the Holocaust in accusations against Israel during his visit to the German capital on Tuesday.
The German tabloid Bild first reported the matter of the probe, which police later confirmed, saying they had received a formal complaint accusing Abbas of “relativizing the Holocaust.”
When asked by a reporter whether he regretted the murder of 11 Israelis at the hands of Palestinians 50 years ago at the Munich Olympics, Abbas said that Israel has committed “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians. He also compared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Holocaust in a public address while standing next to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Germany considers downplaying the Holocaust a criminal offense. Consequently, the P.A. leader’s remarks are being probed “on suspicion of inciting hatred.”
Nevertheless, a full investigation doesn’t automatically follow a preliminary one. Since Abbas was visiting Germany in an official capacity, he is expected to receive immunity from prosecution, according to Germany’s foreign minister.
Abbas seemingly moved to deflect the international outrage he had caused with his comments by saying, “the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern human history.”
The Palestinian leader on Wednesday said that he did not deny “the singularity of the Holocaust that occurred in the last century, … condemning it in the strongest terms.”
In 1982, Abbas’ Ph.D. accused Zionists of being the Third Reich’s “basic partner in crime” and in 2013, stated he has “70 more books that I still haven’t published” on the partnership between Zionists and Nazis.
The German chancellor has faced criticism for remaining silent during Abbas’ comments, instead of outright condemning his remarks.
Only the next day, the chancellor wrote on social media: “I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For us Germans in particular, any relativization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.”
The German leader spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday, emphasizing his rejection of Abbas’ words.
“It was important for him to clarify this personally to the Prime Minister, as well as publicly,” read an official statement from the chancellor’s office.
Lapid thanked Scholz “both as the prime minister of Israel, and as the son of Holocaust survivors.”
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.