Haaretz daily newspaper said that Yair Netanyahu posted online, "Terror has a religion and it is Islam."  [GALLO/GETTY]

Yair Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister's 19-year-old son, has posted discriminatory comments about Arabs and Muslims on his Facebook page, an Israeli newspaper reported.

The young Netanyahu, who is also a military spokesman in the Israeli army, posted on his Facebook page that Muslims "celebrate hate and death," the Haaretz newspaper reported on Friday.

In the same Facebook post, which was made after a Jewish family was killed in March in the occupied West Bank, Yair Netanyahu also said: "Terror has a religion and it is Islam".

He wrote that "not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims", and two years prior, ran a Facebook group of 23 people that called for a boycott of Arab businesses and products.

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 would not comment on the Facebook reports, referring questions to Attorney David Shimron, a lawyer for the Netanyahu family.

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.

Defamatory comments

The defamatory comments drew an immediate condemnation from the Palestinians, who are sceptical of his father Binyamin Netanyahu's willingness to make the concessions necessary for a Palestinian state.

Husam Zomlot, a Palestinian spokesperson, interpreted Yair Netanyahu's comments 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."

Some of the comments on Facebook predated his military service, the Israeli army said, adding that he had been ordered to remove political statements posted after he was drafted.

Haaretz newspaper did not say how it obtained access to the Facebook account, though profiles can be viewed publicly unless users modify their security settings.

Binyamin Netanyahu served as premier of the right-wing Likud party from 1996 to 1999, then returned to power more than a decade later as prime minister.

Last month, Netanyahu rejected a return to the 1967 borders after White House talks with Barack Obama, the US president.

While Netanyahu has publicly accepted the principle of a Palestinian state, he argues that the essence of the remaining conflict is the Palestinians' refusal to accept Israel as the state of the Jewish people. Under his watch, peace efforts have stalled.

Israel's military has suffered a series of online embarrassments. Soldiers have posted pictures on Facebook of themselves mistreating detained Palestinians and dancing on patrol. In one case, the military had to cancel an operation after a soldier revealed plans on his Facebook page.

Source: Agencies