Berlin police are investigating Abbas for inciting hatred over the comment “50 Holocausts”.

Berlin police are investigating Abbas for inciting hatred over the comment “50 Holocausts”.

BERLIN – Berlin police have launched a preliminary investigation into Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his comments this week that Israel committed “50 holocausts” against Palestinians.

The comments during a press conference in Berlin alongside Chancellor Olaf Scholz sparked outrage in Germany, Israel and beyond.

Police on Friday confirmed a report in German daily Bild that Abbas was being investigated for possible incitement to hatred after he received a formal criminal complaint. The trivialization of the Holocaust is punishable in Germany, but the opening of a preliminary investigation does not automatically result in a comprehensive investigation.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry said that Abbas – as a representative of the Palestinian Authority – enjoys immunity from prosecution because he is visiting the country in an official capacity.

Germany does not recognize the Palestinian Territories as a sovereign state, a position Scholz reiterated on Tuesday.

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Scholz condemned Abbas’ seditious statements in a telephone call with Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday.

Scholz told Lapid it was important for him to personally reiterate his condemnation of Abbas’s allegations to the prime minister.

Berlin police are investigating Abbas for inciting hatred over the

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, leave the Federal Chancellery on August 16, 2022 after a press conference at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin. (Jens Schlueter / AFP)

“Keeping alive the memory of the Shoah’s breach of civilization is an eternal responsibility of this and every German government,” said Scholz, according to the Berlin recording of the conversation.

On Wednesday, Scholz said he was “disgusted” by the comments after he was criticized by local media for not immediately recognizing Abbas’s remarks, made by the latter when the two leaders stood side by side during a Berlin news conference the night before disagreed. Although Scholz appeared distressed when Abbas spoke, he did not speak.

During their phone call, Lapid thanked the German leader and said he was speaking both as Israel’s prime minister and as the son of a Holocaust survivor, according to a statement released by Lapid’s office.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Abbas answered a reporter’s question about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Munich massacre. Eleven Israeli athletes and a German policeman died when members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September took hostages in the Olympic Village on September 5, 1972. At the time of the attack, the group was affiliated with Abbas’ Fatah party.

1660982473 109 Berlin police are investigating Abbas for inciting hatred over the

A member of the terror group that seized members of the Israeli Olympic team from their quarters in the Olympic Village with a hood covering their faces stands on the balcony of the building where they were holding members of the Israeli team hostage, in Munich September 5, 1972 .(AP/Kurt Stocking)

Asked whether, as the Palestinian leader, he plans to apologize to Israel and Germany, Abbas instead responded with allegations of atrocities committed by Israel since 1947.

“If we want to go through the past, go ahead,” Abbas, who spoke Arabic, told reporters.

“I have 50 massacres that Israel committed in 50 Palestinian villages… 50 massacres, 50 massacres, 50 holocausts,” he said, pronouncing the last word in English.

Scholz was widely criticized for not speaking up. Der Spiegel, Die Welt, Junge Freiheit and other media made headlines about his silence during the press conference. BILD was shocked that there was “not a word of contradiction in view of the worst relativization of the Holocaust that a head of government has ever expressed in the chancellery”.

Bundestag opposition leader Friedrich Merz, leader of the CDU, said Scholz “should have contradicted the Palestinian president unequivocally and asked him to leave the house!”

However, most of the backlash has been directed at Abbas for his refusal to apologize for the Munich massacre and for critics’ downplaying of the Holocaust.

The German ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, called Abbas’ statements “wrong and unacceptable”.

After the riot, Abbas issued a statement released by the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency WAFA, in which he retracted his comments and reiterated that “the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern human history.”

A spokesman for Scholz told reporters his office summoned the head of the Palestinian mission in Berlin on Wednesday.

The Chancellor’s foreign and security policy advisor announced that Scholz expects the President of the Palestinian Authority “to unreservedly recognize the singularity of the Holocaust,” said Steffen Hebestreit. “His slip-up yesterday casts a dark shadow over Germany’s relations with the Palestinian Authority.”

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