An American congressman has apologised for his “poor choice of words” after he called Jewish settlers “termites”.

Representative Hank Johnson, a Democrat from Georgia, made the initial remarks while speaking at an event organised by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation when he made the analogy.

Referring to West Bank settlers, he said: “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.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council said his remarks were “deeply offensive and dehumanising” while the Anti-Defamation League said it appreciated the congressman’s apology.