By Sam Youngman and Emily Goodin - 06/07/10 12:12 PM ET
The longtime White House reporter is stepping down after her controversial comments on Israel. Helen Thomas announced Monday that "she is retiring, effective immediately," according to a statement from Hearst newspapers.
Her decision comes after her controversial remarks about Israel hit the blogosphere. She later apologized for her comments.
White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) President Ed Chen criticized her remarks in a statement Monday.
"Helen Thomas' comments were indefensible and the White House Correspondents Association board firmly dissociates itself from them. 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," he said.
"We want to emphasize that the role of the WHCA is to represent the White House press corps in its dealings with the White House on coverage-related issues. We do not police the speech of our members or colleagues. We are not involved at all in issuing White House credentials, that is the purview of the White House itself. But 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. That is an issue under the jurisdiction of this board. We are actively seeking input from our association members on this important matter, and we have scheduled a special meeting of the WHCA board on Thursday to decide on the seating issue," he said.
Thomas remarked in video posted to RabbiLive.com that Jews in Israel should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go back home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else."
The comments were made during a White House event on May 27 celebrating Jewish heritage.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said during his daily press briefing that Thomas, who was absent from Monday's briefing, "should and has apologized."
Thomas has covered the White House for decades, and served as the first female president of the White House Correspondents' Association.
While she left her reporting duties and became a columnist, Thomas still sits in the prized front-and-center seat in the White House briefing room, a seat assigned by the WHCA.