Berlin police said Friday they have launched an investigation into Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over his comments on the Holocaust during a recent visit to the German capital.
Police have received a complaint accusing Abbas of “relativizing the Holocaust” and are investigating “on suspicion of inciting hatred,” a police spokeswoman told AFP.
Any relevant findings will be passed to Berlin prosecutors who will eventually decide whether a crime has been committed.
At a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday, Abbas had accused Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians since 1947.
Scholz did not immediately challenge Abbas on his comments but, following widespread criticism, tweeted on Wednesday that he was “disgusted by the outrageous remarks” made by the Palestinian leader.
In Israel, Abbas’s remarks drew a hail of condemnation from Prime Minister Yair Lapid and others.
“Mahmud Abbas accusing Israel of having committed ‘50 Holocausts’ while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie,” Lapid wrote on Twitter.
A German foreign ministry spokesman said Berlin believes Abbas enjoys diplomatic immunity because he was in Germany on an “official visit as the representative of the Palestinian Authority.”
Germany does not recognize Palestine as a country, but maintains diplomatic relations with the Palestinian territories.
Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told AFP that “the positions of the president and Palestinian leaders are clear on all these issues and known to all.”
He referred to a statement from Abbas’s office on Wednesday calling the Holocaust “the most heinous crime in modern human history” and adding that Abbas’s “answer was not intended to deny the singularity of the Holocaust that occurred in the last century.”
“Hence there is no need or justification for this campaign against the president and the Palestinian project,” the spokesman said on Friday.