United States Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed regret over his Israel “apartheid” remarks ahead of Yom Hashoah.
In the wake of criticism from Jewish and pro-Israeli organisations, Mr Kerry issued an apologetic statement on Monday evening.
He said: “If I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way, in the long term, to have a Jewish state and two nations and two people living side by side in peace and security, is through a two state solution.”
He said he did not believe Israel could become "an apartheid state".
Last week, Mr Kerry said Israel risked becoming an “apartheid state” if a Middle East peace agreement was not reached.
British Colonel Richard Kemp, an outspoken supporter of Israel, condemned the comment on Twitter. Col Kemp accused Mr Kerry of “disgracing America - John Kerry falsely accuses Israel of racism”.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said: “It is startling and deeply disappointing that a diplomat so knowledgeable and experience about democratic Israel chose to use such an inaccurate and incendiary term.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said: “Any suggestion that Israel is, or is at risk of becoming, an apartheid state is offensive and inappropriate.”
Mr Kerry's remark came following last week's breakdown of the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The US-imposed deadline for a deal has now expired.