Israel's public security minister has apologized after making a perceived racist slur to an undercover police officer.

Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch's office said the minister was accompanying police officers on a tour of a run-down Tel Aviv neighborhood Tuesday when he was approached by what appeared to be two Arab drug addicts in dirty clothes.

The two "addicts" turned out to be undercover Israeli police officers working to catch drug dealers.

Aharonovitch's office said the minister was impressed by the policemen's disguises and said one of them looked like an "Arabush" — a derogatory Hebrew slang term for Arab.

On Wednesday the minister issued an apology, saying his remark was intended as a compliment for their work.