Netanyahu 'reconsidering' PR chief's appointment

State Department spokesman says Kerry spoke with Netanyahu, who said he is reviewing the appointment of Ran Baratz.

Nitsan Keidar ,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was said to be reconsidering the appointment of Ran Baratz as his new head of public diplomacy on Thursday, after the United States reacted angrily to comments Baratz wrote on Facebook in the past about President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest reacted on Thursday evening to Baratz’s apology for the remarks, saying, "It's readily apparent that that apology was warranted. But obviously the decisions that Prime Minister Netanyahu has to make about who will serve his government and represent him and his country are decisions that he rightfully will make on his own."

The State Department, meanwhile, said the United States finds Baratz’s comments to be "troubling and offensive" and that Kerry has spoken to Netanyahu about it.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said Kerry spoke to Netanyahu on Thursday and understood the prime minister "will be reviewing" the appointment of Baratz.

"His comments about U.S. officials, including the president and Secretary Kerry, we believe were troubling and offensive," Kirby said, according to Reuters.

"We obviously expect government officials from any country, especially our closest allies, to speak respectfully and truthfully about senior U.S. government officials," he added.

Meanwhile, Arutz Sheva has learned that Baratz, who was supposed to accompany Netanyahu on his trip to Washington for a meeting with Obama next week, will not join the trip.

As well, a vote on Baratz’s appointment, which was supposed to take place in the cabinet on Sunday, will be postponed for some time, until a conversation between Baratz and Netanyahu, to be held after the Prime Minister returns from Washington.

After Obama reacted to the speech delivered by Netanyahu in Congress in March, Baratz wrote, "This is what modern anti-Semitism looks like in western liberal countries. And of course, it comes with a lot of tolerance and understanding toward Islamic anti-Semitism. So much tolerance and understanding, until they are even willing to give them nukes."

In October of 2014, he wrote about a speech in which Kerry "made a connection between Israel and ISIS." He wrote commented sarcastically, "After his term as secretary of state he is certain to have a flourishing career in one of the stand-up comedy clubs in Kansas City, Mosul, or the Holot detention facility." Elsewhere, he reportedly said Kerry had "the mental age of a 12-year-old."