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The editor of The Lancet has expressed his “deep regret” to Israeli doctors after his journal published a controversial letter in the wake of the Gaza war co-authored by two scientists who had previously circulated Ku Klux Klan material.

Prof Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor – a Jerusalem-based research institute – which last month published an investigative report about The Lancet’s authors, expressed surprise at Prof Horton’s speech.

“I expected when Richard Horton came on Monday to hear a whitewash – to hear from someone trying to save his position, because for many years he has been the centre of a lot of demonisation of Israel through the Lancet and through false medical claims”, he told The Telegraph immediately after the lecture.

“What I heard was a changed man, someone who expressed regret – some would say it could have been greater, but the fact that he did this was very important.”

At the conclusion of his visit, Prof Horton said he hoped to “open a new chapter” in the relationship between The Lancet and Israel, whilst emphasising the importance of closer Israeli-Palestinian ties and understandings.