Berlin police investigate Palestinian president’s Holocaust comments

Mahmoud Abbas’s remarks, during a news conference in Berlin alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, sparked outrage in Germany, Israel and beyond.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, speaks during a news conference after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, at the Chancellery in Berlin
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, speaks during a news conference after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, at the Chancellery in Berlin

Berlin police have opened a preliminary investigation against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over his comments this week that Israel had committed “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians.

The remarks, during a news conference in Berlin alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, sparked outrage in Germany, Israel and beyond.

Police confirmed a report by German daily Bild that Mr Abbas was being investigated for possible incitement to hatred after receiving a formal criminal complaint.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, shake hands after a press conference after their talks in Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday
Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Olaf Scholz shake hands after a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday (Wolfgang Kumm/dpa via AP)

Downplaying the Holocaust is a criminal offence in Germany, but the opening of a preliminary inquiry does not automatically entail a full investigation.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry said that Mr Abbas – as a representative of the Palestinian Authority – would enjoy immunity from prosecution because he was visiting the country in an official capacity.

Germany does not recognise the Palestinian Territories as a sovereign state, a position Mr Scholz reaffirmed on Tuesday.

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