Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, was accused yesterday (Wednesday) of inciting violence against Palestinians and “trivialising” the Holocaust after he claimed it was the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem who convinced Hitler to exterminate the Jews.
Speaking at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, Mr Netanyahu said Haj Amin al-Husseini, who served as grand mufti from 1921 to 1948, “had a central role in fomenting the final solution” by telling Hitler to kill the Jews.
“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,” Mr Netanyahu said, speaking of a 1941 meeting between Husseini and Hitler in Germany. “And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said, ‘Burn them’.”
The comments, which come during deepening violence in Israel and the West Bank, drew an immediate backlash from both Palestinian and Israeli Arab leaders and Holocaust experts.
Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Arab Joint List faction in the Knesset, accused Mr Netanyahu of “rewriting history in order to incite against the Palestinian people”.
He denounced Mr Netanyahu as “dangerous” for both
Israelis and Palestinians, adding: “The victims of the Nazi monster, among them millions of Jews, have become cheap propaganda in the service of peace rejectionism.”
Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said the Mr Netanyahu was absolving
“the most notorious war criminal in history”.
Israeli historians said the claims were tantamount to Holocaust denial.
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