NEW DELHI: Following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s absurd statements where he placed the blame for the Holocaust on the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, Germany reaffirmed that the Nazis were the ones responsible. At the same time, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation issued a statement of condemnation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germans were "very clear in our minds" that the Nazis were responsible.

PLO Secretary General Dr. Saeb Erekat said in a statement titled, “Netanyahu hates Palestinians so much that he is willing to absolve Hitler of the murder of 6 million Jews,”: “In an address to the 37th Zionist Congress, Mr. Netanyahu did not mince words. His regrettable statements have deepened the divide during a time when a just and lasting peace is needed most, further fueling the political issue into a religious one, and underscoring his commitment to the continued occupation and violence against Palestinians.

Just a day after the Israeli occupying forces gunned down five Palestinians, raising up the number of Palestinians killed since October 1st to 50, Mr. Netanyahu blamed the Palestinians for the Holocaust and completely absolved Adolf Hitler’s heinous and reprehensible genocide of the Jewish people. According to Netanyahu, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, “flew to Berlin” to convince Hitler to kill the Jews. “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,” Netanyahu explained. "And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, 'If you expel them, they'll all come here.' 'So what should I do with them?' [Hitler] asked. [Haj Amin] said, 'Burn them.'"

On behalf of the thousands of Palestinians that fought alongside the Allied Troops in defense of international justice, the State of Palestine denounces these morally indefensible and inflammatory statements. Palestinian efforts against the Nazi regime are a deep-rooted part of our history. Palestine will never forget – though it seems Netanyahu’s extremist government has. It is a sad day in history when the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbor so much so that he is willing to absolve the most notorious war criminal in history, Adolf Hitler, of the murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. Mr. Netanyahu should stop using this human tragedy to score points for his political end.”

Merkel and Erekat were referring to a statement made by Netanyahu at the 37th World Zionist Congress this week, where the Israeli leader said that Adolf Hitler only wanted to expel the Jews, but was later convinced to terminate them as urged by the Grand Mufti, who died in 1974.

Netanyahu said that Hitler and the Grand Mufti met in November 1941 and “Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jew. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, 'If you expel them, they'll all come here (to Palestine).'” According to Netanyahu, Hitler then asked “What should I do with them? and the Grand Mufti replied, “Burn them.”

Netanyahu has faced a barrage of criticism for his statement. The chief historian at Israel's memorial to the Holocaust said it was factually incorrect. "You cannot say that it was the mufti who gave Hitler the idea to kill or burn Jews," Professor Dina Porat from the Yad Vashem memorial told the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog wrote on Facebook that Netanyahu’s statement "minimises the Holocaust, Nazism and... Hitler's part in our people's terrible disaster".

As Palestinian-American writer Yousef Munayyer pointed out on Twitter, Netanyahu’s controversial statement whitewashed Hitler to pin the blame of the holocaust on the Palestinian leader.

This is not the first time Netanyahu has made made such a claim. For instance, during a Knesset speech in 2012, Netanyahu called Husseini "one of the leading architects" of the final solution. Historians widely reject any and every assertion of Husseini’s part in the extermination of Jews during World War II.

Here’s what Netanyahu said (as released in an official transcript):

“My grandfather came to this land in 1920 and he landed in Jaffa, and very shortly after he landed he went to the immigration office in Jaffa. And a few months later it was burned down by marauders. These attackers, Arab attackers, murdered several Jews, including our celebrated writer Brenner.

And this attack and other attacks on the Jewish community in 1920, 1921, 1929, were instigated by a call of the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was later sought for war crimes in the Nuremberg trials because he had a central role in fomenting the final solution. He flew to Berlin. Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, "If you expel them, they'll all come here." "So what should I do with them?" he asked. He said, "Burn them."”

As notes: “This statement is almost too absurd to debunk, but for the record, Haj Amin al-Husseini met Hitler in November 1941. Although the origins of the Final Solution itself have been hotly debated among historians, we do know that by March of that year Hitler was openly talking about a need to make sure the “Jewish-Bolshevik elite” would be killed, as well as “all Jews and card-carrying Communists” in the lands that Germany was taking from the Soviet Union; this order was carried out by Heinrich Himmler, who delivered these instructions to the Einsatzgruppen on March 13th, 1941. The phrase “complete solution of the Jewish question” was first uttered by Nazi leader Hermann Goering who gave the task to SS General Reinhardt Heydrich on July 31st, 1941. The killing centers in Poland were organized under so-called Operation Reinhard, and work on these units began in October 1941, a month before the Mufti visited Jerusalem.”

The same article concludes: “It is a sad irony that Netanyahu is distorting the history of the Holocaust in order to shift blame to the Palestinians, but it makes sense in the context of his politics. Netanyahu's goal has been to deny Palestinians rights and to claim they are simply driven by irrational hatred – this form of incitement that shifts blame from the Nazis themselves to the Palestinians is exactly in line with his politics. But the absurdity of the claim may backfire on him.”

Unfortunately for Netanyahu, even the Israeli media has projected the statement as quite absurd. The Jerusalem Post led with a story quoting the chief historian at Israel's memorial to the Holocaust “reacting sharply” to Netanyahu’s assertion. Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Netanyahu has been “slammed” for his remarks, quoting experts saying that although the Grand Mufti did meet Hitler, it was after the Final Solution had been conceptualised. Haaretz said Netanyahu was “widely ridiculed.” The Times of Israel leads with Germany's insistence that it was responsible for the Holocaust and states that Netanyahu has been “roundly denounced.”