Israels prime minister on Sunday departed for Washington on a trip that has become clouded in controversy following his appointment of a new spokesman who has spoken derisively about President Barack Obama. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus trip to the White House comes at a sensitive time for Israel, which is still reeling from the international communitys nuclear deal with arch-enemy Iran and a wave of Palestinian violence that shows no signs of ending.But as Netanyahu departed for Washington, attention remained focused on his appointment of Ran Baratz, a conservative commentator who has suggested in Facebook posts that Obama is anti-Semitic and Secretary of State John Kerry cannot be taken seriously.Obama and Netanyahu have had a strained relationship over the years, and the timing of Baratzs appointment, which still requires Israeli Cabinet approval, has threatened to overshadow the visit. White House officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, have expressed displeasure over the appointment. Baratz is not on the trip, and Netanyahu has said he will decide his fate after returning to Israel.Addressing his Cabinet Sunday, Netanyahu made no mention of Baratz, saying the visit would center on “recent events in the Middle East.”Much of the conversation is expected to focus on a nearly two-month wave of violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
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