Mahmoud Abbas’ sunk to a new low in his recent comments on the Holocaust made before the Palestine National Council on April 30. In his lengthy “history lesson,” Abbas sought to discredit the 3,000-year-old Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. This aim alone deserves condemnation. But the worst part of his falsifying diatribe was his assertion that the Jews’ in Europe brought centuries of persecution – culminating in the Holocaust – upon themselves through unsavoury financial practices. Those words could have been taken straight out of the antisemitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The speech rightly sparked fierce condemnation from Israel and the international community. Canadian Friends of Peace Now joins in this condemnation.

Today, Abbas backtracked through an apology to “people of the Jewish faith.” He denounced “antisemitism in all its forms,” called the Holocaust “the most heinous crime in history,” and reaffirmed his “commitment to the two-state solution.”

Necessary as the apology may be, it is unlikely to erase the effect of his earlier comments. As stated by the European Union, Abbas’ “unacceptable remarks concerning the origins of the Holocaust and Israel’s legitimacy…will only play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution.” Indeed, Abbas has given new fodder for the Israeli right-wing mantra that there is “no partner for peace.”

Sadly, the peace camp has received another blow. This is both a disservice to the Palestinian cause and detrimental to Israel’s long-term interests.