Nobel literature laureate Gunter Grass, who is under fire for a poem that criticizes Israel, has told German media that he was singling the Israeli government, not the country as a whole.

In the poem published in European dailies earlier this week, the 84-year-old German author criticized what he described as Western hypocrisy over Israel's nuclear program and labeled the country a threat to "already fragile world peace" over its stance on Iran.

He's since been accused of anti-Semitism, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rebuked his views as "ignorant and objectionable."

In an interview published Saturday by the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Grass says he sought foremost to single out the policies of "Netanyahu's current government."

In an interview published Saturday by the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Grass says he sought foremost to single out the policies of "Netanyahu's current government."

"It's that which I criticize, a policy that keeps building settlements despite a UN resolution. I'm criticizing a policy which is creating more and more enemies for Israel and is increasingly isolating it," Grass said.

The German writer added that Netanyahu was the person who did Israel the most harm, saying he "should have added that to the poem."

The Nobel laureate's comments came after on Thursday Gras said he his poem was misunderstood, saying in an interview with a German public broadcaster that the"overall tenor is to not engage in the content of the poem, but instead to wage a campaign against me and to claim that my reputation is damaged forever."

Also on Saturday, a senior Iranian official praised Grass for his controversial poem, saying he has beautifully carried out his human and historical responsibility.

In a letter published by the semiofficial Fars news agency, Iranian Deputy Culture Minister Javad Shamaqdari said the 84-year-old poet's revelation of "truth may awaken the silent conscience" of the West.

However, the Iranian officials wasn't the only one supporting Grass' critical words on Saturday, as officials in the far-right German faction NPD wrote on the party's website that "Grass broke the taboo when he criticized the Jewish state's aggressive policy."

The Nobel laureate also received backing from Wolfgang Gehrcke, a German parliament member on behalf of the left-wing party Die Linke, who said: "He's right."