In a meeting with representatives of minority communities in Israel on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for the remarks that he made on Election Day about Arab Israeli voters.

"I know that the things I said a few days ago hurt some citizens in Israel, the Arab Israeli citizens," Netanyahu said.

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"This was not my intention and I am sorry," he said. 

Netanyahu's Election Day remarks have garnered extensive criticism.

“The Right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are going en masse to the polls. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses,” the prime minister said last week.

Netanyahu said Monday that as prime minister he makes enormous investments in minority communities which proves the opposite of his comments last week.

The prime minister said foreign elements outside of Israel should not be allowed to intervene in Israeli democracy.

In the controversial statement on Election Day, Netanyahu said "funding from foreign governments to get more Israeli Arabs to vote worked, which means all Right-wing voters must make sure to go to the polls."

Netanyahu told the gathered community leaders on Monday that he saw himself as the prime minister of every one of them, "without any difference in religion, race, or sex."

"I see in every Israeli citizen a partner in the building of a flourishing and safe state of Israel for all," Netanyahu remarked. 

Joint (Arab) List head Ayman Odeh called Netanyahu's statement unacceptable and said a sincere apology should come in the form of passing laws intended to make state funding allocations in Israel more equal. He noted that after the meeting with the Arab leaders, Netanyahu met with Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and spoke to him about advancing nationalist legislation.

"This is just another zigzag by a man known for his zigzags," Odeh said. "He should turret the mandates he received for his incitement. We are waiting for a real apology, which means real equality."

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.


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