The United States and European Union on Thursday criticised remarks about the World War Two persecution of Jews and antisemitism by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
In a statement, the EU’s diplomatic service said the 87-year-old Abbas’s remarks, made in late August to a meeting of his Fatah movement’s Revolutionary Council, were “false and grossly misleading”.
Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, called for an immediate apology for what she said were Abbas’s “hateful, antisemitic remarks”.
There was no immediate comment from Abbas. Members of his Fatah party did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.
In his remarks Abbas said Jews were targeted by Nazi Germany because of their “social role” rather than their religion.
“This has been explained by many Jewish authors. When they said that Hitler killed the Jews for being Jews, and that Europe hates the Jews because they were Jews, no. It was clearly explained that they fought (the Jews) because of their social role and not their religion,” Abbas said.
Abbas has frequently drawn the anger of the international community with remarks about the Nazi Holocaust, in which around 6 million Jews were murdered, as well as members of groups such as the Roma community, people with disabilities and those from sexual and gender minorities.
In a statement, the foreign affairs spokesman for the EU, one of the major donors to the Palestinian Authority, called the remarks “an insult to the millions of victims of the Holocaust and their families”.
“Such historical distortions are inflammatory, deeply offensive, can only serve to exacerbate tensions in the region and serve no one’s interests,” he said. “They play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated for.”
The Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in territory occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war and where Palestinians seek to establish an independent state.
Abbas’ remarks were also condemned by Germany’s ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, who said in a post on the social messaging platform X: “The Palestinians deserve to hear the historical truth from their leader, not such distortions.”
During a visit to Berlin last year, Abbas was rebuked by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz after he accused Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” in response to a question about the 50th anniversary of the attack on the Israeli team at the 1972 Munich Olympics by Palestinian militants.
Abbas has rebuffed repeated demands from the Palestinian public to step down during his two decades in power.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures fell on Thursday over concerns about sticky inflation, while investors awaited comments from key Federal Reserve officials later in the day to gauge the U.S. interest rate path.
Wall Street’s three major stock indexes closed lower on Wednesday with the Nasdaq’s 1% loss leading declines after stronger-than-expected services sector data fueled concerns that persistent inflation could lead to interest rates staying higher for longer.
Apple (AAPL.O) dropped 2.8% in premarket trading on a report that China was seeking to broaden iPhone ban to state firms and agencies, a day after losses in its shares weighed down all three major indexes.
Further denting sentiment, data showed China’s exports and imports fell in August, with sagging overseas demand and weak consumer spending hitting businesses in the world’s second-largest economy.
Shares of U.S.-listed Chinese firms including PDD Holdings (PDD.O), JD.com , Baidu and Alibaba fell between 2% and 2.9%.
“The twin worries of China’s slowdown and the prospect of higher interest rates in the U.S. are proving hard to shift, spreading fresh unease among investors,” Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown said in a note.
“Lacklustre trading is set to be the order of the day given there is so little to pin more optimistic hopes on right now.”
Investors await comments from at least six Fed speakers, including policy voting members Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker, Vice Chair and New York Fed President John Williams, due to speak later in the day.
Traders’ bets on the Fed leaving interest rates unchanged in September stood at 93%, while their odds for a pause in the November meeting were at 51.8%, down from nearly 59% a week ago, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool.
Investors also await initial jobless claims numbers for the week ended Sept. 2, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, as they parse through economic data for any indications of slowing inflation.
At 7:05 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 9 points, or 0.03%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 13 points, or 0.29%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 94.75 points, or 0.62%.
Helping keep the pressure off Dow futures, shares of McDonald’s (MCD.N) rose 1% premarket after Wells Fargo upgraded its rating on the stock to “overweight” from “equal weight.”
Automation software firm UiPath (PATH.N) added 5.2% on an upbeat annual revenue forecast after it topped estimates for second-quarter results.