UN Security Council Rejects U.S. Request to Condemn Abbas's Remarks About Jews

Diplomats say Kuwait opposed draft, saying Palestinian president already apologized for remarks widely condemned as anti-Semitic

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, April 30, 2018.
Majdi Mohammed/AP

The United Nations Security Council declined on Friday to adopt a request by the United States to condemn recent remarks by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that were widely criticized as being anti-Semitic, according to AFP. Diplomats said Kuwait rejected the U.S. draft and killed it, arguing that Abbas had already apologized and that it was one-sided.

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The U.S. draft called Abbas's comments "unacceptable" and said they did not serve the interests of the Palestinians and did not help advance Mideast peace.

Abbas apologized on Friday for his remarks, saying in a statement released in English, Hebrew and Arabic: "If people were offended by my statement, especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them. I would like to assure everyone that it was not my intention to do so, and to reiterate my full respect for the Jewish faith, as well as other monotheistic faiths.

 "I would also like to reiterate our long held condemnation of the Holocaust, as the most heinous crime in history, and express our sympathy with its victims," he continued. "Likewise, we condemn anti- Semitism in all its forms, and confirm our commitment to the two- state solution, and to live side by side in peace and security."

>> What Abbas really said about the Jews | Analysis

The European Union and the United Nations' Mideast envoy on Wednesday condemned Abbas' remarks as "unacceptable" after he referred in a speech to the idea that European Jews were historically persecuted because of their involvement in money-lending and banking.

Citing books written by various authors, Abbas argued: “They say hatred against Jews was not because of their religion, it was because of their social profession. So the Jewish issue that had spread against the Jews across Europe was not because of their religion, it was because of usury and banks.”

The UN's Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, condemned Abbas' statement, saying his speech "repeated some of the most contemptuous anti-Semitic slurs, including the suggestion that the social behavior of Jews was the cause for the Holocaust."

The UN envoy said that "such statements are unacceptable, deeply disturbing and do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people or peace in the Middle East. Denying the historic and religious connection of the Jewish people to the land and their holy sites in Jerusalem stands in contrast to reality.