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Netanyahu Rejects Abbas' Shift on Holocaust

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the opening ceremony of Holocaust Memorial Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem April 27, 2014.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected comments made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in which he called the Holocaust "the most heinous crime" of modern history.

Abbas' statement was published Sunday by the Palestinian official news agency, WAFA, just hours before Israel began marking Holocaust remembrance day, and several days after the suspension of peace negotiations with Israel.

But Netanyahu said the Palestinian leader was simply making statements “designed to placate global public opinion.”

He told CNN Abbas quote "can't have it both ways. He can't say the Holocaust was terrible, but at the same time embrace those who deny the Holocaust and seek to perpetrate another destruction of the Jewish people,'' referring to Abbas' attempts to reconcile with the Islamic militant movement Hamas.

Denials or attempts to minimize the Holocaust, which saw the systematic killing of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany in World War II, are widespread in the Arab world.

Abbas himself has been accused of minimizing the scope of the Holocaust in a doctoral dissertation in the 1970s.

His acknowledgement of Jewish suffering is believed to have grown out of his meeting last week with an American rabbi who promotes Jewish-Muslim understanding.