Helen Thomas, the 89-year-old veteran White House correspondent, will retire effective immediately in the wake of her offensive comments on Israel.
"Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately," a Hearst Newspapers statement said. "Her decision came after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet."
Thomas, who transitioned from reporter to columnist in 2000 but kept her front-row seat at White House briefings, had come under fire for her statement that Israel should "get the hell out of Palestine" and that Jews in Israeli should return to Germany, Poland, or the US.
Thomas apologized for the comments, saying:
"I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon."
The White House Monday called Thomas' remarks "offensive and reprehensible."
"Helen Thomas' comments were indefensible and the White House Correspondents Association board firmly dissociates itself from them," the WHCA said in a statement. "Many in our profession who have known Helen for years were saddened by the comments, which were especially unfortunate in light of her role as a trail blazer on the White House beat."
The WHCA statement added that the incident "does revive the issue of whether it is appropriate for an opinion columnist to have a front row seat in the WH briefing room."
More from the Associated Press:
The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman, said Sunday that Thomas' apology didn't go far enough.
"Her suggestion that Israelis should go back to Poland and Germany is bigoted and shows a profound ignorance of history," Foxman said in a statement. "We believe Thomas needs to make a more forceful and sincere apology for the pain her remarks have caused."
Thomas began her long career with the wire service United Press International in 1943, and started covering the White House in 1960, according to a biography posted on her website. She became a columnist for Hearst in 2000.