Germany closes incitement probe into Abbas’s ’50 holocausts’ remark
Prosecutor says complaint against PA chief didn’t have legal basis, even though he made an ‘inappropriate comparison’ on German soil where trivializing Nazi crimes is barred
Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief
Authorities in Berlin have decided to close their preliminary investigation against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, deeming “extremely inappropriate” his claim on German soil that Israel committed “50 holocausts” against the Palestinians, albeit not enough to hold him criminally liable under the country’s legal code, which bars the trivialization of Nazi crimes.
During an August press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Abbas was asked if he’d like to apologize for the murder of Israeli athletes by the Palestinian terror group Black September at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. The PA president responded by saying, “If we want to go over the past, go ahead.”
“I have 50 slaughters that Israel committed in 50 Palestinian villages… 50 massacres, 50 slaughters, 50 holocausts,” he continued, pronouncing the final word in English.
The response evoked immediate uproar in Israel, Germany and the US, leading Abbas to eventually issue a statement walking back his remarks and clarifying that the Holocaust “is the most heinous crime in modern history.”
But a police complaint was still filed against him and a preliminary investigation was opened two days after the Berlin press conference.
On Monday, the Berlin public prosecutor’s office decided to close the case against Abbas.
Asked to explain the decision, the office sent a two-page letter to the German daily Bild in which it wrote that there were not “sufficient indications” that Abbas’s remarks amounted to incitement to hatred as set out in Section 130 of the German penal code, which bars downplaying the Holocaust.
The public prosecutor argued that Abbas’s sole aim was “to highlight what he believes to be the crimes committed by the Israeli army and to point out their injustice while attempting to make an extremely inappropriate historical comparison.”
Another complaint was filed against Abbas in light of the public prosecutor’s decision, sending the matter to the country’s Attorney General’s Office to adjudicate, a German official told The Times of Israel. The decision is not likely to be overturned though, the German official speculated, noting the PA leader’s diplomatic immunity.
Monday’s decision was hailed by PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki whose office agreed that there had been no legal basis for the complaint against Abbas.