Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Israel's Arab citizens on Monday for remarks he made during last week's parliamentary election.

The move appeared to be an attempt to heal rifts and mute criticism at home and in the United States. Netanyahu drew accusations of racism in Israel and a White House rebuke when, just a few hours before polling stations were to close, he warned that Arab citizens were voting "in droves."

But President Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, rejected Netanyahu's attempt to distance himself from his comments, telling an Israel advocacy group Monday that the U.S. can't just overlook Netanyahu's comments.

Netanyahu, whose Likud Party won reelection, met with members of the Arab community at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem on Monday and apologized. - AP