Israeli Energy Minister Compares Abbas 'Incitement' to Nazi Era

Update | Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz has accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of inciting violence, comparing it to the anti-Semitic propaganda used by the Nazis.

"Abu Mazen [Abbas] is the number one instigator in the world against the Jewish people and the state of Israel. In terms of the level of incitement and its intensity, the level of anti-Semitism in this incitement, he is even worse than Arafat," Steinitz said on Sunday, The Times of Israel reported.

"There is a great similarity between the incitement of the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Abu Mazen and the incitement of the Nazis against the Jewish people before World War II."

Speaking to reporters at the annual Israeli-American Council Conference in Washington D.C., Steinitz, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, criticized the international community for considering Abbas as a partner for peace with Israel, saying that "to speak of Abbas's part [in the latest unrest] is the understatement of the century.

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"Out in the world, in English, he speaks against terror, but when you see the basic messages that children under Abu Mazen get daily from the Palestinian Authority, the subtext is very clear: 'You need to get rid of the Jews, to destroy and erase the state of Israel,'" Steinitz claimed. "Thus I see Abu Mazen as the central guilty party in the current wave of terror."

He made the comments just hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that he is traveling to the Middle East this week to meet with Abbas to discuss the latest escalation of violence between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

This is not the first time that Steinitz has accused Abbas of anti-Semitism. In January 2014, the Israeli minister said that Abbas is "the number one leader in injecting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel poison."

However, he has not compared Abbas's rhetoric to the Nazi era so publicly before, only previous linking the PA's official media coverage to the Nazi era in an interview with Canadian magazine Maclean's in 2013 on a visit to Ottawa. Steinitz's use of Nazi connotations in regard to Abbas is a sign of the heightened tensions between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership in recent weeks, as well as on the ground between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

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A Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media, said that Steinitz "doesn't really deserve a response" but reacted to his comments in an email to Newsweek.

"Mr. Steinitz represents one of the most extremist sectors in Israel. One that negates peace, that believes in Apartheid and negates the rights of the Palestinian people," the official says. "His statement comes as there is an ongoing incitement campaign against President Abbas, a man whose peace-credentials are known worldwide.

"The struggle against Nazism became a universal struggle because it was a struggle for peace, justice and freedom," the official adds. "Mr. Steinitz rejects the three of them. His statement is not only hypocritical but an insult to the victims of the Nazi crimes."

The Israeli government under Netanyahu's stewardship has also regularly accused Abbas's PA of incitement against Israel and Jews, with Netanyahu himself calling the Palestinian body that oversees the West Bank "anti-Semitic" last year.

Steinitz said that Kerry should not consider Abbas as a partner for a diplomatic process "until he completely stops incitement against the people of Israel.

"In the current state of things, you cannot see Abu Mazen as a partner for any positive process as long as there is no dramatic change," he said. "What needs to be done right now is not to talk about any other subject. The incitement must be stopped."

The Israeli government has previously accused Abbas of lying about the death of a 13-year-old Palestinian attacker. The boy stabbed a teenage Israeli Jew in northern Israel last week before being shot by Israeli forces. A video then circulated on social media showing him lying in a pool of blood while onlookers shouted obscenities at him.

Following the incident, Abbas made a speech last Wednesday in which he claimed that the 13-year-old had died, saying Israel "execute our children in cold blood, as they did to the child Ahmed Manasra."

Netanyahu's office subsequently released an image showing that the boy was recovering in an Israeli hospital and Netanyahu accused the Palestinian leader of espousing "incitement and lies." Abbas's office said that he had been given the wrong information moments before the speech.

In the last two weeks, a spate of stabbing attacks committed by Palestinians and clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters has seen eight Israelis and more than 40 Palestinians killed.

This article has been update to include a response from a Palestinian official.

Israeli Energy Minister Compares Abbas 'Incitement' to Nazi Era |