Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas on Friday offered an apology for his recent claim that European Jews were persecuted through history for being money-lenders rather than for their faith.
"If people were offended by my statement in front of the Palestinian National Council, especially people of the Jewish faith, " Abbas said in a statement issued by his office in Ramallah after a four-day meeting of the PNC when he made the remarks.
"I apologise 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.
The statement deplored anti-Semitism and called the Holocaust the “most heinous crime in history".
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," he said, referring to a possible resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
The apology came after Jewish leaders and diplomats as well as the European Union strongly criticised Abbas for his remarks to the PNC - the de facto parliament of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
Abbas, 82 was re-elected as chairman of the PLO’s Executive Committee on Friday.