(JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped back from his earlier claim that the grand mufti of Jerusalem convinced Hitler to exterminate Jews.
At a news conference Wednesday in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netanyahu modified comments made a day earlier in Jerusalem concerning Haj Amin al-Husseini, Haaretz reported.
Netanyahu emphasized that Hitler bore responsibility for the Holocaust, but stood by his previous assertion that the mufti encouraged Hitler to murder European Jewry. Al-Husseini, who served as grand mufti from 1921 to 1937, is considered to be one of the founders of Palestinian nationalism. He enjoyed warm relations with Nazi Germany and met with Hitler in December 1941.
Merkel, who spoke before Netanyahu, said that “Germany is clear on its responsibility for the Holocaust.” At the news conference, she also said that building Jewish settlements in the West Bank is “counterproductive,” and called on both Israel and the Palestinians to take steps to calm the current violence, according to Reuters.
She noted, however, that Israel has an “obligation” to protect its own citizens and said the Palestinians must condemn “everything constituting the support of terror,” according to the Associated Press.
Netanyahu and Merkel met prior to the news conference.