At a time when the Middle East peace process appears stymied, Israel received an unexpected olive branch when
But Israeli Prime Minister
"What happened to the Jews in the Holocaust is the most heinous crime known by mankind in modern times," said Abbas, according to a statement published Sunday by the Palestinian government news agency WAFA.
Abbas expressed sympathy for the families who died at the hands of the
The Palestinian leader made his comments in response to a question last week during a meeting with
Abbas' comments were made public Sunday; Israel was set to mark
Drawing a link to the present, Abbas used the occasion of the "incredibly sad commemoration of Holocaust Day" to urge Israel's government "to take this opportunity to achieve just and comprehensive peace" based on a two-state solution.
Netanyahu also tied past and present together but drew different conclusions as he commented on U.S. television about the agreement last week between Abbas'
"Hamas denies the Holocaust even as it attempts to create an additional Holocaust by destroying the state of Israel. It is with this Hamas that Abu Mazen chose to form an alliance," said Netanyahu, referring to Abbas by his nickname.
Abbas was trying "to placate and somehow smooth over the fact that he made a terrible step away from peace," Netanyahu said, calling on the Palestinian leader to "tear up your pact with Hamas. Recognize the Jewish state. Make peace."
"But you can't have both peace with Hamas and peace with Israel," he said.
Israel has suspended its involvement in peace talks led by U.S. Secretary of State