Palestinian president calls Holocaust ugliest crime

Abbas says he felt compassion for victims, their families

RAMALLAH – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday called the Holocaust the ugliest crime humanity has known in modern history, and said he felt compassion for the victims and their families.

His comments were published by the Palestinian official news agency WAFA just hours before the start of Israel's annual Holocaust memorial. Abbas' statement also came as the latest US attempt to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal was on the verge of collapse.

“On the memorial of the painful Holocaust, we call on the Israeli government to use this opportunity to reach a just and comprehensive peace, based on a two-state solution, Palestine and Israel living side by side in security and peace,” Abbas said. Hamas has traditionally refrained from acknowledging the Holocaust.

Last week, Israel suspended negotiations in response to a reconciliation deal between Abbas and the Hamas. At the time, Israeli leaders alleged Abbas preferred peace with the militants to peace with Israel. Abbas has said he is ready to extend negotiations beyond Tuesday's deadline, provided Israel halts settlement construction and keeps a promise to release a group of veteran Palestinian prisoners.

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Aaj Kal