Netanyahu retracts claim about Palestinian cleric’s link to Holocaust

Benjamin-Netanyahu flip flop flip

Benjamin-Netanyahu flip flop flipIsrael’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday retracted his claim that a Palestinian cleric persuaded Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews, following widespread criticism of the comments and accusations that the Israeli leader was stoking tensions amid weeks of violence.

More than a week after Mr. Netanyahu said in a speech that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini told Hitler to “burn” the Jews of Europe rather than deport them, the Israeli leader walked back his comments.

Mr. Netanyahu, who had already tried to clarify his remarks following a broadside of criticism from historians and Israeli and Palestinian officials, said the mufti supported the mass murder of the Jews during World War II, what was known as the Final Solution, but that the Nazis instigated the plan.

“The decision to move from a policy of deporting Jews to the Final Solution was made by the Nazis and was not dependent on outside influence,” Mr. Netanyahu wrote in a post on his Facebook page, an unusual medium to respond to such criticism.

“The Nazis saw in the Mufti a collaborator, but they did not need him to decide on the systematic destruction of European Jewry,” he added in the post, which was in English and Hebrew.

In a speech at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on Oct. 20, Mr. Netanyahu described a dialogue between Hitler and Mr. Husseini at a 1941 meeting, an account that historians said wasn’t based on fact. Mr. Netanyahu made a similar allegation that the mufti instigated the Final Solution in a 2012 speech marking International Holocaust Day.

“My remarks were intended to illustrate the murderous approach of the Mufti to the Jews in his lengthy contacts with the Nazi leadership,” Mr. Netanyahu said in the Facebook post. “Contrary to the impression that was created, I did not mean to claim that in his conversation with Hitler in November 1941 the Mufti convinced him to adopt the Final Solution.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s post Friday came amid more violence between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli prime minister’s original comments had sparked criticism that he was adding to weeks of incitement by Palestinian leaders that had propagated the bloodshed.

In three separate attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday, five Palestinians injured three Israeli civilians and security officers before being shot or subdued, Israeli police said.

Early Friday, an Israeli police officer was lightly injured in a stabbing attack by two Palestinians in the northern West Bank before another officer shot the assailants, killing one and wounding the other.

In northern Jerusalem, a Palestinian stabbed a U.S. citizen, injuring him before being shot by security forces. The assailant later died of his wounds. An Israeli citizen was also shot and wounded moderately in the crossfire, Israeli police said.

Security forces also clashed with Palestinians armed with firebombs and stones in cities in the West Bank, Israeli police said. In one instance, security forces ran over a Palestinian who had tried to attack an officer, injuring the assailant.

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, had called for another Friday of demonstrations, labeling it a day of the “martyrs of Hebron,” a city in the southern West Bank where 13 Palestinian attacks have occurred in October.

The Israeli military Thursday said it would increase security in Hebron to ensure the safety of all of Israeli civilians living there.

Palestinians have killed 11 Israelis in stabbings, shootings and stone-throwing this month. More than 60 Palestinians have died in clashes with security officials, including at least 20 who killed Israelis and were shot dead by Israeli police, Palestinian health officials have said.