Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas retracted on Saturday the allegation that he made before the European Parliament on Thursday that rabbis in Israel had called to poison Palestinians' wells.
A message from his office stated, "After it was clarified that the alleged statement attributed to a rabbi regarding poisoning wells was unfounded, the Palestinian present stresses that he did not intend to harm Judaism or the Jewish people, in accordance with the deep respect he feels for all religions, including Judaism."
The statement simultaneously rejected the Israeli claims against Abbas of anti-Semitism and condemned the "illegal" steps of Israeli authorities and settlers against the Palestinian people and the incitement against him and his rights.
In his Brussels speech to the European Parliament, Abbas sharply criticized the Jewish State and emphasized that his hand was outstretched in peace and addressed Israel: "But are your hands outstretched for peace? Are you willing to recognize the historical injustice?"
He ended his speech and was applauded by saying, "The non-existence of a Palestinian state and the non-implementation of the two-state solution prolongs the conflict and produces extremism. We are against international terror, and the way to have the terror you face come to an end, you must bring an end to the Israeli occupation."
Despite the efforts of European Parliament President Martin Schulz to arrange a meeting between Abbas and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who was also in the Belgian capital, the Palestinian president refused to meet.
On this refusal, Rivlin commented from Brussels, "I must say that I find it strange that President Mahmoud Abbas has refused again and again to meet with Israeli leaders, and turns again and again to the support of the international community. I want to take this important opportunity to say that I was happy to welcome the initiative by representatives of the EU to set a meeting between me and Abbas, who is also visiting Brussels. I was sorry to learn he rejected such a meeting.
"We will not be able to build trust between us if we do not begin to speak directly, and look at what can be done and not at what cannot be done. And there is a lot that can be done."