Netanyahu Spokesman Who Insulted Obama Takes Up Post

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
Ran Baratz, Netanyahu’s controversial nominee for media advisor. (REUTERS/Olivier Fitoussi)
Newly appointed government spokesman Ran Baratz. (Reuters/Olivier Fitoussi)

The Israeli prime minister’s office says a former conservative commentator who has spoken derisively about President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry has taken up his post as a government spokesman after months of delays.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office on Thursday confirmed that Ran Baratz began work as director of communications several weeks ago. Baratz was appointed last November, but his appointment was delayed after the emergence of earlier social media posts in which he suggested Obama is anti-Semitic and said Kerry could not be taken seriously.

Netanyahu disavowed the comments, and Baratz apologized. But the affair became another chapter in the uncomfortable relationship between Israeli and American leaders.

Baratz declined to comment. There was no immediate reaction from the White House.