Netanyahu links Palestinians to Holocaust, causes uproar

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JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under fire for suggesting that a World War II-era Palestinian leader convinced the Nazis to adopt their Final Solution to exterminate European Jews.

Holocaust experts are slamming Netanyahu’s comments as historically inaccurate. Critics are saying Wednesday the statement amounts to incitement against modern-day Palestinians in the midst of a wave of violent unrest and Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

Netanyahu told a group of Jewish leaders on Tuesday that the Mufti of Jerusalem, Nazi sympathiser Haj Amin al-Husseini, convinced Hitler to destroy the Jews.

“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,” Netanyahu said. When Hitler asked al-Husseini what to do, Netanyahu said he replied: “Burn them”.

The recent spike in violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has led to international calls for calm, with concerns the unrest could spin out of control.

Human rights groups in Israel have expressed concern over what they said has been “a worrying trend to use firearms to kill Palestinians who have attacked Israelis or are suspected of such attacks”.

The United States has also expressed concerns that Israel may have used excessive force in subduing some of the attackers — a claim Netanyahu rejected.

He said Israel is using “exactly the kind and amount of legitimate force” that any other government faced with seemingly spontaneous stabbing attacks would use.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on his visit to Jerusalem on Tuesday met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, in a high-profile gambit to bring an end to the fresh wave of violence.

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