Abbas: Holocaust was 'most heinous crime in modern history'
Published Sunday 27/04/2014 (updated) 28/04/2014 10:27
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday called the Holocaust the "the most heinous crime against humanity in modern history" and extended his condolences to the "families of the victims and the innocent people who were killed by the Nazis including the Jews and others."
The statement, which came on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, marks one of the most high profile declarations from a Palestinian leader on the systematic Nazi killing of more than 10 million civilians, including the genocide of around six million Jews, during and immediately prior to the second World War.
Abbas stressed in a statement that the "world must do its utmost to fight racism and injustice in order to bring justice and equality to oppressed people wherever they are."
"The Palestinian people, who suffer from injustice, oppression and denied freedom and peace, are the first to demand to lift the injustice and racism that befell other peoples subjected to such crimes," he added.
The president also touched upon the current political moment, saying: "On the incredibly sad commemoration of Holocaust Day, we call on the Israeli government to seize the current opportunity to conclude a just and comprehensive peace in the region, based on the two states vision, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security."
The statement came during a conversation with American Rabbi Marc Schneier, and was released in Arabic and English to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is marked in Israel beginning on Sunday evening.
For many Israeli Jews, Palestinian recognition of the widespread killing of Jews in Europe during the Holocaust is considered important because it entails recognition of the historical trauma suffered by the Jewish people.
Palestinian leaders, however, have not historically made statements on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, pointing out that Palestinians had nothing to do with the tragedy.
Additionally, because Israel often cites the Holocaust as a major reason underlying the need for a "Jewish state" in historic Palestine, many Palestinians are sensitive to potential suggestions that the genocide of Jews by Nazi Germany mandates or justifies their own dispossession by Israel.