23 June 2016
By Robin Emmott and Dan Williams
BRUSSELS/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israeli rabbis on Thursday of calling for the poisoning of Palestinian water, in what appeared to be an invocation of a widely debunked media report that recalled a medieval anti-Semitic libel.
The remarks drew strong condemnation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who termed them a "blood libel", in a statement issued by his office.
Abbas's remarks, in a speech to the European parliament, did not appear on the official transcript issued by his office, suggesting he may have spoken off the cuff as he condemned Israeli actions against Palestinians amid stalled peace talks.
"Only a week ago, a number of rabbis in Israel announced, and made a clear announcement, demanding that their government poison the water to kill the Palestinians," Abbas said.
"Isn't that clear incitement to commit mass killings against the Palestinian people?" […]
New York Times
25 June 2016
By DIAA HADID
JERUSALEM — A little more than a day after President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority accused rabbis in Israel of calling for their government to poison the water used by Palestinians, he retracted the allegation in a statement on Saturday, saying it had become “evident” that it was “baseless.”
Mr. Abbas made the unsubstantiated allegation during an address to the European Parliament on Thursday. The remarks echoed anti-Semitic claims that led to the mass killings of European Jews in medieval times.
The Palestine Liberation Organization had initially published the allegation on a website run by one of its offices, and it spread through some regional news media outlets.
Mr. Abbas’s retraction was sent to reporters early Saturday morning, issued by the P.L.O., of which Mr. Abbas is the chairman. It said that Mr. Abbas “rejected all claims that accuse him and the Palestinian people of offending the Jewish religion.” It added that he “also condemned all accusations of anti-Semitism.”
“After it has become evident that the alleged statements by a rabbi on poisoning Palestinian wells, which were reported by various media outlets, are baseless, President Mahmoud Abbas has affirmed that he didn’t intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the world,” the statement continued.
It was not immediately clear why Mr. Abbas repeated the allegation on Thursday, days after it was widely debunked. Neither the rabbi who supposedly made the claim, nor the organization quoted in the original P.L.O. article, appear to exist. […]