Israelis decry Netanyahu's choice for media spokesman

Nomination of Ran Baratz, who had accused Obama of anti-semitism, comes as Israeli forces kill another Palestinian.

    Israelis decry Netanyahu's choice for media spokesman
    Israeli fire has killed at least 74 Palestinians since the start of October while at least nine Israelis have died [Majdi Mohammed/AP]

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under fire for nominating a new spokesman who has in the past derided the country's much-admired president, made snarky remarks about US leaders and voiced support for Jewish hardliners.

    The nomination of Ran Baratz, founding editor of a conservative news site, sparked an uproar in Israel on Thursday.

    Baratz recently said on his Facebook page that US President Barack Obama's response to Netanyahu's speech to Congress this year was an example of "modern anti-Semitism in liberal Western states".

    Netanyahu's speech marked a low point in relations between the two leaders. Obama skipped the speech, which sought to persuade US lawmakers to vote against a deal on Iran's nuclear programme.

    Netanyahu said he had been unaware of the comments.

    Baratz, 42, has also taken jabs at US Secretary of State John Kerry, saying he should seek out a job as a stand-up comedian, insinuating his speeches are laughable.

    In a 2004 column, Baratz, who lives in a West Bank settlement, voiced support for Jewish hardliners pushing for a greater Jewish presence at a Jerusalem holy site.

    'Poisonous words'

    Much of the furor has centred on a Facebook post Baratz made about Israel's largely ceremonial but much-admired President Reuven Rivlin.

    He poked fun at Rivlin's penchant for flying coach on official trips, saying he is able to do so from a security standpoint because he is a "marginal figure".

    Baratz's comments triggered anger among some Israelis.

    "This is the man the prime minister chose to be my mouthpiece, all of our mouthpieces, to talk to the world in our names. This man, with his words dripping with poison, his mouth is our mouth now," wrote satirist Mika Almog in the Yediot Ahronot daily.

    A statement from Netanyahu's office called the posts "inappropriate", saying Baratz would show restraint once in public office.


    RELATED: Netanyahu ridiculed over mufti Holocaust comments


    If the cabinet approves the nomination, Baratz will serve as spokesman for Israeli media and become a close adviser to the prime minister.

    A separate Netanyahu spokesman deals with the foreign press.

    The nomination of Baratz came amid widespread unrest, as an increase in Palestinian protests against Israel's ongoing occupation have given way to frequent clashes across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the besieged Gaza Strip.

    On Thursday, Israeli forces shot dead an alleged Palestinian attacker in northern Hebron.

    Since October 1, Israeli forces or settlers have killed at least 74 Palestinians, including unarmed protesters, bystanders and accused attackers. At least nine Israelis have died in the same period.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    As tensions over India's citizenship law shine a light on Assam, a writer explores the historical tensions in the state.

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    The story of a man who spent 19 years awaiting execution reveals the power of a false blasphemy claim to destroy a life.

    The Syrian women and girls sold into sexual slavery in Lebanon

    The Syrian women and girls sold into sexual slavery in Lebanon

    Syria's refugee crisis has shone a light on sex trafficking in Lebanon, where victims are often treated as criminals.