Germany stresses Holocaust responsibility after Israel PM's claim

AFP , Wednesday 21 Oct 2015

Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Photo: Reuters)

Germany on Wednesday stressed its inherent responsibility for the Holocaust, after Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu stirred controversy by claiming that a Palestinian leader gave Hitler the idea of exterminating Jews.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who hosted Netanyahu for talks Wednesday, stressed: "Germany abides by its responsibility for the Holocaust."

"We don't see any reason to change our view of history."

In a speech on Tuesday, Netanyahu suggested that Adolf Hitler was not planning to exterminate the Jews until he met Palestinian nationalist Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in 1941.

"Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time. He wanted to expel the Jews," Netanyahu told the World Zionist Congress.

"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.'"

But Netanyahu on Wednesday backtracked on the claim, denying that he was exonerating Hitler of the responsiblity for the Holocaust.

Standing next to Merkel, he said the "responsibility of Hitler and the Nazis for the extermination of 6 million Jews is clear to fair minded people".

At the same time, he insisted that the Grand Mufti's role should not be forgotten.

"He told the Nazis to prevent the fleeing of Jews from Europe and he supported the final solution," insisted Netanyahu.

"The real question should be directed not at me but at president Abbas: why is he and the Palestinian authority glorifying the official mufti of Jerusalem as a Palestinian icon?

"They call him the father of the Palestinian nation, this is a war criminal who was sought for war crimes," said the Israeli leader.

Netanyahu's comments came amid three weeks of Palestinian protests threatening a full-scale uprising.

The current wave of protests and repression started in late July when 18-month old toddler Ali Dawabsha was burned to death and three other Palestinians severely injured after their house in the occupied West Bank was set on fire by Israeli settlers.

The parents of the toddler, Riham and Saad, and their other son Ahmad later lost their lives after suffering serious injuries in the arson attack.

Palestinians have been protesting repeated Israeli and illegal Jewish settler attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque and closing the Muslim holy site on a number of occasions to worshippers.

The Israeli premier sought to tie his historical reference to current debates over the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, arguing that the mufti had also falsely claimed at the time that Jews were seeking to destroy it.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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