Bennett: Appoint Ran Baratz and don't apologize

Education Minister says Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should appoint Ran Baratz as public diplomacy head if he so wishes.

Ido Ben Porat ,

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Knesset spokesman

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should appoint Ran Baratz as head of public diplomacy if he so wishes and not apologize for it, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Thursday night.

"Only Israel will decide who will head its public diplomacy. I back the decision to appoint Ran Baratz. Without apologizing," he wrote on Twitter.

Bennett was replying to criticism by the United States over Baratz’s past comments about President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry and subsequent reports that Netanyahu was “reconsidering” Baratz’s appointment in the wake of the criticism.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest reacted on Thursday evening to Baratz’s apology for the remarks, saying the apology was “warranted”.

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.

Netanyahu said earlier Thursday that Baratz had apologized for the "improper" comments on Facebook regarding Obama, Kerry as well as President Reuven Rivlin.

Netanyahu said the comments were " improper and do not represent my positions or the policy of the government. Dr. Baratz apologized for the statements and asked to discuss them in a meeting with me, and we agreed to meet when I return to Israel."

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.