Palestinian Leader Apologizes After Speech Prompts Anti-Semitism Uproar


JERUSALEM — President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority apologized on Friday for any possible offense caused by a speech he made this week laced with anti-Semitic tropes, including the claim that the Jews of Europe brought persecution and the Holocaust upon themselves by engaging in usury and banking.

The effort at damage control came after a storm of international criticism and condemnation and calls for Mr. Abbas, who is in his 80s, to resign after his remarks to the Palestine National Council, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“If people were offended by my statement in front of the P.N.C., especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them,” he said in a statement. “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.”

The statement, which was sent to reporters and some editors, was published in Arabic and English on the website of WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency.

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