Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed no regret Tuesday for the deadly attack by Palestinian militants against Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics half a century ago, countering that Israel had committed "Holocausts" against Palestinians over the years.
Eleven Israeli athletes and a German police officer died after members of the Palestinian militant group Black September took hostages at the Olympic Village on Sept. 5, 1972. At the time of the attack, the group was linked to Abbas' Fatah party.
Asked whether as Palestinian leader he planned to apologize to Israel and Germany for the attack ahead of the 50th anniversary next month, Abbas responded instead by citing allegations of atrocities committed by Israel since 1947.
"If we want to go over the past, go ahead," Abbas told reporters after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. "I have 50 slaughters that Israel committed."
Standing next to Scholz, Abbas explicitly used the word "Holocausts" in his reply, drawing a grimace from the German chancellor. Germany has long argued the term should only be used to describe the Nazis' singular crime of killing six million Jews before and during World War II.
While Scholz did not publicly rebuke Abbas for using the term "Holocaust," he earlier rejected the Palestinian leader's description of Israel's treatment of Palestinians as "apartheid." Scholz also said he did not believe the time had come to recognize Palestinian statehood, which Abbas repeatedly called for.
The Palestinian president did say he was committed to building trust and achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict with Israel.
"Please come to peace," he said. "Please come to security, let's build trust between us and you. This is better than other kinds of talking."
Weeks before a planned somber commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of the Munich attack, Germany has also found itself embroiled in controversy in its dealings with the relatives of the Israelis who were killed.
Victims' families announced last week that they planned to boycott the ceremony after failing to reach an agreement on bigger compensation from the German government.
Relatives of the athletes have long accused Germany of failing to secure the Olympic Village, refusing Israeli help and botching a rescue operation in which five of the attackers also died.