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Benjamin Netanyahu urges pardon for convicted Israeli soldier

Israel's prime minister has called for a pardon for a soldier convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of a badly wounded Palestinian attacker.

With his comment, Benjamin Netanyahu has plunged into a raging political debate that has divided the country, putting himself at odds with the military.

The prime minister made the remarks just hours after Sergeant Elor Azaria was convicted on Wednesday. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years. Azaria's defence team has already said it will appeal.

On his Facebook page, Mr Netanyahu wrote: "I support giving Elor Azaria a pardon."

He also urged the public to support the army and its commanders.

The country's president, Reuven Rivlin, has authority to issue pardons but has said he will wait for the legal process to run its course before making a decision.

AP

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