(JERUSALEM) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ condemnation of the Holocaust was met with skepticism by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday.
Abbas released his declaration on the website of the official Palestinian news agency WAFA ahead of Israeli memorial day, which began at sundown.
The Holocaust, Abbas said, represents the “concept of ethnic discrimination and racism which the Palestinians strongly reject and act against,” adding that it was “the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era.”
It was the first time a Palestinian leader has publicly rejected the Holocaust, the German extermination of six million Jews during World War II.
However, Netanyahu, appearing on U.S. talk shows, questioned Abbas’ sincerity, given that the Palestinian Liberation Organization, came to a reconciliation agreement last week with the militant group Hamas, which denies the Holocaust and calls for the destruction of Israel.
After the P.L.O. and Hamas made its pact, Israel announced it would no longer take part in peace talks that might lead to the formation of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu said that Abbas is doing damage control now and that his only way back to peace talks is by rejecting Hamas entirely.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Faith Karimi and Steve Almasy, CNN Newswire
Steve Visser and Masoud Popalzai, CNN