The finger-pointing continues.
One day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked a global outcry with controversial remarks about the Holocaust, he attempted to redirect the outrage at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
During an incendiary speech to the World Zionist Conference on Tuesday, Netanyahu said that Hitler intended only to “expel” the Jews from Europe, and that the idea to "exterminate" them in the Holocaust had come from Haj Amin al-Husseini, a Palestinian Muslim elder who served as the mufti of Jerusalem.
Haaretz reporter Barak Ravid followed up on Netanyahu's controversial statement with two pointed questions during a joint press conference with Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday. Ravid asked Merkel how she felt about the Holocaust being used as a "political football." He then wondered whether it was maybe a bit hypocritical of Netanyahu to have condemned a speech by Abbas as "inflammatory" last week, in light of his own provocative remarks on Tuesday.
"Hitler was responsible for the Holocaust," Netanyahu responded, before doubling down on his initial statement seconds later: "I think no one should deny ... important testimony about the mufti of Jerusalem, that he told the Nazis to prevent the fleeing of Jews from Europe, and that he supported the Final Solution."
"I think the real question should be directed not at me, but at President Abbas," Netanyahu continued. "Why is he and the Palestinian Authority glorifying the mufti of Jerusalem as a Palestinian icon? They call him the father of the Palestinian nation. This is a war criminal that was sought for war crimes... This is a man who collaborated with the Nazis, and yet he is glorified in schoolbooks [and] texts."
Merkel's response, in contrast, was straightforward. "We don’t see any reason to change our view of history," she said. "We abide by our responsibility, as Germany, for the Holocaust."
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have skyrocketed amid a sudden rise in violence there. The wave of apparently uncoordinated stabbings, shootings and vehicular assaults has left 47 Palestinians and 10 Israelis dead, leading to fears of a third intifada.
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