Israel’s Netanyahu heads to Washington as spokesman draws fire

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JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister is headed to Washington on a trip that has been clouded in controversy following a new setback in his rocky relationship with President Barack Obama.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet Sunday that his White House meeting would include discussions on the Palestinian issue and “the strengthening of Israel’s security.”

But the trip has been overshadowed by Netanyahu’s appointment of a chief spokesman who has suggested that Obama is anti-Semitic and Secretary of State John Kerry should not be taken seriously.

Top U.S. officials have criticized the comments, which were posted by media adviser Ron Baratz before his appointment. Netanyahu made no mention of Baratz before departing Sunday.

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