Abbas Retracts Claim That Rabbis Called for Poisoning of Palestinian Wells

In a statement, the PLO says it has become clear the accusations against the rabbis are 'baseless,' and the Palestinian president didn't intend to offend Jewish people.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas poses for photographs at the European Parliament in Brussels, June 23, 2016.
Thierry Charlier, AFP

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has retracted comments he made in a speech at the European Parliament accusing rabbis of poisoning Palestinian wells.

The Palestine Liberation Organization issued a statement saying it has become evident that claims of rabbis poisoning wells, which were "reported by various media outlets," are "baseless."

"President Mahmoud Abbas has affirmed that he didn't intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the world," said the statement, adding that Abbas also condemns all accusations of anti-Semitism.

In his remarks, made in Brussels on Thursday, Abbas invoked a widely debunked media report that recalled a medieval anti-Semitic libel. The speech received a standing ovation.

In the PLO statment, Abbas, calling Palestine the cradle of all three monotheistic faiths, came out "strongly against any attack on any religion" and said he didn't intend to harm to Judaism or offend Jewish people around the world.

The Palestinian president also condemned "all illegitimate practices and policies by the Israeli occupation authorities and settlers against the Palestinian people."