Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on a state visit to Australia, on Thursday told reporters he favors pardoning Private (formerly Sergeant) Elor Azaria, “Due to the special circumstances soldiers like him are under,” as he put it, Israel Radio reported.
Azaria was sentenced to 18 months in military jail after he was convicted for killing a neutralized terrorist in Hebron last year. Netanyahu explained that those special circumstances are the fear experienced by soldiers and other security forces of defending themselves during terrorist attacks, lest a court later punish them for their actions.
Also on Thursday, the PM met again with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and members of his Cabinet, for the signing of agreements and memoranda of understanding (MOUs).
These include an agreement on cooperation in industrial research and development is expected to strengthen bilateral commercial ties and enable companies from both countries to receive financing for joint research and development projects. This agreement is in addition to existing research and development agreements with the states of Victoria and New South Wales.
Israel’s and Australia’s bilateral trade currently stands at $1.1 billion. In 2016, Israel exported to Australia goods and services worth $700 million.
Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and Israeli Ambassador to Australia Shmuel Ben-Shmuel signed an aviation agreement.
The managing directors of QANTAS and El Al also signed an MOU.