Berlin prosecutors said Monday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s comments on the Holocaust during a visit last year amounted to inciting racial hatred, but they won’t pursue a criminal case due to his diplomatic immunity.
Police in Berlin launched a probe “on suspicion of inciting hatred” in August 2022 on the basis of two complaints accusing Abbas of “relativizing the Holocaust” during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
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The Berlin prosecutor’s office said in a statement it had reached the conclusion that “Abbas had committed the crime of inciting racial hatred” but enjoyed “immunity so that there is an obstacle to him being tried.”
At the press conference with Scholz, which pre-dated the current war between Israel and Hamas by more than a year, Abbas accused Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians since 1947.
Scholz did not immediately challenge Abbas on his comments but, following widespread criticism, tweeted the next day that he was “disgusted by the outrageous remarks” made by the Palestinian leader.
In Israel, Abbas’s remarks drew a hail of condemnation from then-Prime Minister Yair Lapid who called them “not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie.”
The Berlin prosecutor’s office stressed that while Abbas was covered by immunity, his comments were a clear violation of German law.
Abbas’s comparison “obviously lacks an objective factual basis because the situation of the Palestinian population since the founding of the state of Israel is not even close to comparable with the situation of the Jewish population of Europe under the rule of the National Socialists and trivializes both the quantity and the quality of the atrocities committed at that time,” it said.
A German foreign ministry spokesman said when the probe was opened that Berlin believed 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.
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