Scarfe sorry over 'unfortunate' timing of Sunday Times Netanyahu cartoon

Rupert Murdoch (Photo: AP)

Rupert Murdoch (Photo: AP)

Cartoonist Gerald Scarfe has issued an explanation following the outcry over his drawing of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu in this week's Sunday Times.

Mr Scarfe, who on Monday told the Jewish Chronicle that he had not been aware that the offending image would be published on Holocaust Memorial Day, denied accusations of antisemitism but apologised "for the very unfortunate timing".

He said in a statement on his personal website that he had been stupidly completely unaware” that it would be printed on HMD.

"I am not, and never have been, antisemitic," said the cartoonist, who is best known for designing a Pink Floyd album cover. "The Sunday Times has given me the freedom of speech over the last 46 years to criticise world leaders for what I see as their wrong-doings.

"This drawing was a criticism of Netanyahu, and not of the Jewish people: there was no slight whatsoever intended against them."

It comes after Rupert Murdoch, owner of News International, revealed his disgust over the decision to feature the cartoon.

Mr Murdoch wrote on Twitter that his company owed a "major apology for grotesque, offensive cartoon".

Martin Ivens, acting editor of the Sunday Times, met members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews today to discuss the controversy over the cartoon.

According to the Board, Mr Ivens told them that "the associations on this occasion were grotesque and on behalf of the paper I’d like to apologise unreservedly for the offence we clearly caused. This was a terrible mistake."

Last updated: 6:14pm, January 29 2013