Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said Wednesday that Morsi told a U.S. Senate delegation that a distinction must be made between criticism of what he called the “racist” policies of the Israelis against the Palestinians and insults against the Jewish faith.

Last week video of the comments was broadcast on Egyptian television, showing Morsi in 2010 — then a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood — referring to “Zionists” as “bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians” as well as “the descendants of apes and pigs.”