WASHINGTON: The Israeli prime minister's newly appointed chief spokesman has apologised for calling President Barack Obama the "modern face of anti-Semitism" and for describing John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, as a "man with the mental age of 12".
The comments by Ran Baratz threatened to overshadow Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington next week, during which he will attempt to heal a rift over the Iran nuclear deal.
Mr Baratz, 42, a West Bank settler and former philosophy lecturer, was appointed head of public diplomacy and media on Wednesday. It emerged that he had previously made a series of highly offensive comments about US leaders on the internet. His attack on Mr Obama came in the wake of Mr Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress in March, in which he fiercely opposed the nuclear deal.
Mr Baratz wrote: "Obama's way of speaking about Netanyahu's speech, that is the modern face of anti-Semitism in Western and liberal countries."
Referring to Mr Kerry, Mr Baratz said he hoped "the state department will wake up and begin to see the world through the eyes of a person whose mental age exceeds 12".
Mr Baratz apologised and said he "deeply regretted his hurtful remarks" which were "written without thinking". He will not be accompanying Mr Netanyahu, who called the posts "totally unacceptable" to Washington.