US asks UN council to reject 'unacceptable' Abbas remarks

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


The United States on Friday asked the UN Security Council to reject the "unacceptable" and "deeply disturbing" remarks by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas about Jews that included "vile anti-Semitic slurs."

Abbas apologized over the remarks delivered in an address to the Palestinian National Council, but a US-drafted statement called on the president to "refrain from anti-Semitic comments."

The proposed statement would express the council's "serious concern" about Abbas' remarks, which "included vile anti-Semitic slurs and baseless conspiracy theories, and do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people or peace in the Middle East."

The draft seen by AFP urges "all parties to avoid provocations that make the resumption of negotiations more difficult."

Abbas triggered global outrage after he suggested that hostility toward Jews in Europe was not linked to religious intolerance, but because of their "social function related to banks and interests."

The United Nations envoy for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, on Wednesday accused Abbas of repeating "contemptuous anti-Semitic slurs" by suggesting that the role of Jews in the banking sector led to their persecution in Europe.

On Friday, Abbas apologized and reiterated his condemnation of the Holocaust "as the most heinous crime in history."

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman immediately rejected the apology and said Abbas was a "pathetic Holocaust denier".

Council members were given until 4:00 pm (2000 GMT) to raise objections to the draft statement.

The United States has twice blocked draft statements at the council expressing concern about the violence in Gaza, in which nearly 50 people have been killed by Israeli forces.

The United States is pushing ahead with plans to open its embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, a move that could further stoke violence.