Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday defended a series of meetings he held with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over the past year after the latter accused Israel of committing "50 holocausts" against the Palestinians, a comment that drew wide condemnation in Israel and abroad.
"This is a very serious incident," Gantz told Ynet in an interview, referencing the remarks the Palestinian leader made earlier this week during a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.
"The very denial of the Holocaust, in Germany no less, is outrageous, delusional and false and has no place."
Abbas walked back on the accusations the following morning after the backlash and pressure from Gantz himself.
"Nothing compares to the Holocaust that European Jews and Jews in general went through during the Second World War, you can't obfuscate that. I demanded, through my office, he walk back on his remarks and it is good that he did so."
Gantz underlined the importance of maintaining the security cooperation with Abbas and the Palestinian security apparatus for regional stability.
"I want to tell you one thing, ultimately, we live in the Middle East," the defense chief said. " I have to send soldiers to the battlefield and I have to make every effort to prevent this battle from happening in the first place. We need to maintain stability, we need to be careful about security coordination. I'm not working with Mother Teresa, I'm working with whomever I have to. That's the nature of things."
"I hereby announce that we're here to stay as are the Palestinians and we must maintain our communications with them. I met with Abbas, once at his own home, once at mine and once at his office in Ramallah. There is no love lost here."