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Facebook slurs stir controversy

The Israeli prime minister's 19-year-old son -- a military spokesman -- posted derisive comments about Arabs and Muslims on his Facebook page, drawing a slap on the wrist from his superiors and focusing new attention on the controversial first family.

Earlier this year, Yair Netanyahu posted that Muslims "celebrate hate and death," the Haaretz daily newspaper reported Friday. In the same post, written after Palestinian assailants entered a West Bank settlement and stabbed five members of an Israeli family to death, he wrote that "terror has a religion and it is Islam."

The defamatory comments drew an immediate condemnation from the Palestinians, who are skeptical of his father Benjamin Netanyahu's declared willingness to make the painful concessions necessary to give them a state.

Yair Netanyahu also wrote that he hoped "there would never be" a Palestinian state.

Haaretz said the comments in question were removed from the Facebook page within two hours of the newspaper's request for a response from the prime minister's aides.

The prime minister's office wouldn't comment on the Facebook reports, referring questions to a lawyer for the Netanyahu family.

Attorney David Shimron said the comments were taken out of context, calling them "the cynical use of the words of a teenager, said in anger."

"Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife believe in moderation and tolerance, and they respect all people without regard for their religion, origin or nationality and that is how they raise their children," Shimron said in a statement.

Palestinian spokesman Husam Zomlot interpreted things differently.

"That's the teaching of his father," Zomlot said. "That's what Netanyahu produced in terms of a family and that's what Netanyahu produced in terms of a society."

A military statement said commanders had spoken to Yair Netanyahu "to clarify to the soldier the military commands, outlining his mistakes, as would be done with any soldier in a similar situation."

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