Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologised publicly on Monday for saying Arab Israelis were voting in "droves" in election day comments that drew condemnation, including from the United States.
"I know that my statements last week offended some Israeli citizens and members of the Arab Israeli community. That was never my intention. I apologise for that," he said during a meeting with Arab Israelis that was broadcast by television channels.
Netanyahu made a last-minute call to his supporters to vote last Tuesday in an attempt to counter a high turnout among Arab Israelis.
"The rule of the rightwing is in danger. Arab voters posted are going to the polls in droves!" he said in a video on Facebook.
"Go to the polling stations! Vote Likud!"
US President Barack Obama, commenting on Netanyahu`s surprise election victory, said: "That kind of rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel`s traditions."