BERLIN (Reuters) -German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the Israeli prime minister on Thursday that any attempt to play down or deny the Holocaust was unacceptable, after criticism that he was slow to respond to remarks made by the Palestinian president in Berlin.
At a joint news conference with Scholz on Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing "50 Holocausts" in response to a question about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics by Palestinian militants.
"Our position is clear: we condemn any attempt to deny or downplay the importance of the Holocaust," Scholz tweeted after a phone call with Yair Lapid.
Scholz was criticised by some German politicians and media for not immediately condemning Abbas' statement although he had earlier rejected Abbas’ description of relations between Israel and the Palestinian territories as "apartheid".
The following day, Scholz expressed his disgust at the comment, and a government spokesperson took the blame for ending the joint news conference before Scholz could respond.
The Israeli prime minister's office said in a statement that at the start of their phone call, Scholz emphasised that he rejected and condemned the remarks and said it was important to clarify this personally to Lapid, as well as publicly.
"Prime Minister Lapid thanked him, both as the prime minister of Israel, and as the son of Holocaust survivors," said his office.
Scholz and Lapid agreed to meet soon in Berlin, the German chancellor tweeted.
The two emphasised the importance of ties between Israel and Germany, and agreed to continue cooperation between their two countries in various fields.
They also discussed the Iranian nuclear issue.
Since the Holocaust and World War Two, German politicians have stressed their special responsibility towards Israel.
In response to the outcry, Abbas issued a statement calling Nazi Germany's Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed, "the most heinous crime in modern human history".
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem, Writing by Miranda Murray, Editing by Rachel More and Alison Williams)