A Democratic congressman who was harshly criticised for a metaphor that compared illegal West Bank settlers to termites has apologised for his remarks.
Speaking during an event for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson said: "There has been a steady [stream], almost like termites can get into a residence and eat before you know that you've been eaten up and you fall in on yourself, there has been settlement activity that has marched forward with impunity and at an ever increasing rate to the point where it has become alarming."
"It has come to the point that occupation, with highways that cut through Palestinian land, with walls that go up, with the inability or the restriction, with the illegality of Palestinians being able to travel on those roads and those roads cutting off Palestinian neighbourhoods from each other. And then with the building of walls and the building of checkpoints that restrict movement of Palestinians. We've gotten to the point where the thought of a Palestinian homeland gets further and further removed from reality."
Following complaints by the Anti-Defamation League, the Congressman apologised, tweeting: "Poor choice of words – apologies for offense. Point is settlement activity continues slowly undermine 2-state solution."
His office added: "Congressman Johnson did not call Israelis termites but did say the settlement policies threaten peace and the two-state solution. Congressman Johnson did not intend to insult or speak derogatorily of the Israelis or the Jewish people. When using the metaphor of termites, the Congressman was referring to the corrosive process, not the people."