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Palestinian FM visits Berlin Holocaust memorial: ‘Most heinous crime in history’

Gesture by Riad al-Maliki comes three months after PA chief Abbas, during visit to same city, accused Israel of committing ’50 Holocausts’ against Palestinians

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki (L) and Palestinian Ambassador to Germany Laith Arafeh visit the Holocaust memorial in Berlin on November 17, 2022. (Laith Arafeh/ Twitter)
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki (L) and Palestinian Ambassador to Germany Laith Arafeh visit the Holocaust memorial in Berlin on November 17, 2022. (Laith Arafeh/ Twitter)

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki paid a rare visit to the Holocaust memorial in Berlin while in Germany on Thursday for a diplomatic visit.

“We remembered the victims of the most heinous crime in human history,” wrote Palestinian Ambassador to Germany Laith Arafeh in a tweet that included a picture from the tour.

The visit took place three months after PA President Mahmoud Abbas came under fire for declaring during a press conference in Berlin alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Israel has committed “50 Holocausts” against the Palestinians.

That remark sparked condemnations from Israeli, American, and European officials; and German police announced several days later that they had launched a preliminary inquiry, probing whether the statement amounted to illegal activity. Downplaying the Holocaust is a criminal offense in Germany.

No announcement of a full investigation followed though, and Abbas would likely have enjoyed diplomatic immunity from charges anyway. Still, he walked back the remark a day after making it, using the identical language employed by Arafeh now, in calling the Holocaust “the most heinous crime in human history.”

Abbas said in a statement then that he had not “intended to deny the singularity of the Holocaust that occurred in the last century,” and was “condemning it in the strongest terms.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (R) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hold a joint press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, on August 16, 2022. (Jens Schlueter/AFP)

In 2018, Abbas found himself in similar hot water when he blamed Jews’ “social function” for the Holocaust, rather than antisemitism. Then too, he issued an apology and reiterated his “respect for the Jewish faith.”

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