Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns the Sunday Times of London through a subsidiary, said the paper should apologize for printing what he called a "grotesque" cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Murdoch, the founder and CEO of News Corp., made his remarks Monday on Twitter about the cartoon that appeared the previous day. Netanyahu is depicted as building a brick wall with the blood of Palestinians as mortar.

"Gerald Scarfe has never reflected the opinions of the Sunday Times," Murdoch tweeted, referring to the cartoonist. "Nevertheless, we owe major apology for the grotesque, offensive cartoon."

The illustrator of the cartoon apologized for the timing of its publication, and said it was not intended to be anti-Semitic.

In a statement printed on his official website, Gerald Scarfe emphasized that "I am not, and never have been, anti-Semitic."

He said the drawing, published January 27 - International Holocaust Memorial Day - in the Sunday Times, was "a criticism of Netanyahu, and not of the Jewish people: there was no slight whatsoever intended against them."

"I was, however, stupidly completely unaware that it would be printed on Holocaust Day, and I apologize for the very unfortunate timing," the statement concluded.

Murdoch's statement was made in response to criticism from leaders of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom who said the drawing was reminiscent of anti-Semitic blood libels.

Jon Benjamin, the head of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, called the cartoon "appalling" and said it was similar to the offensive images of Jews "more usually found in parts of the virulently anti-Semitic Arab press."

Benjamin said its appearance in the broadsheet on International Holocaust Remembrance Day added insult to injury.

Earlier on Monday, the Sunday Times defended the cartoon, saying it was "aimed squarely at Mr. Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people." 

The Anti-Defamation League, which earlier condemned the cartoon as blatantly anti-Semetic, welcomed Murdoch's apology, however criticized the newspaper's senior editors, who "vigorously defended the cartoon as a form of legitimate criticism."

"The cartoon, which is so shocking and reminiscent of the virulently anti-Semitic cartoons we see routinely in the Arab press," the statement said, "is clearly indefensible.”