Middle East Minister, Rt. Hon. Alistair Burt MP, has expressed “deep concern” about President Abbas’s much criticised antisemitic remarks made earlier this week in a speech in Ramallah in which he said Jews had caused the Holocaust with their “social behaviour, [charging] interest, and financial matters.”
In a statement, Mr Burt said: “The fundamentals of peace cannot be built on views of the Holocaust which fly in the face of history. Palestinian President Abbas’s comments were deeply concerning. Any attempt to justify or explain away any element of the Holocaust is unacceptable.”
He added: “President Abbas has shown a commitment to non-violence and a two-state solution. But his recent rhetoric does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people and is deeply unhelpful to the cause of peace.”
Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary attended the speech in Ramallah, alongside 80 other international observers. Thornberry was representing Labour at meeting in Ramallah. The Shadow Foreign Secretary confirmed her attendance in a Facebook post published after Abbas’ speech.
The European Union also condemned Abbas for “unacceptable remarks” he made in the speech. A spokesman for the EU’s diplomatic service said in a statement: “The speech Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered on 30 April contained unacceptable remarks concerning the origins of the Holocaust and Israel’s legitimacy”.
Following wide criticism, Abbas has today apologised for his antisemitic speech and described the Holocaust as the “most heinous crime in history”.