In defense of the settlements and of insistence on Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu encouraged cabinet members to use the Nazi-era word "Judenrein" - German for "cleansed of Jews" - and used the expression in his meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
"Judea and Samaria cannot be Judenrein," a Netanyahu associate quoted him as telling Steinmeier in response to demands that all Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria be removed.
Asked how the foreign minister responded to hearing the weighty word the confidant said, "What could he do? He basically just nodded."
German officials made no comment on the terminology.
Judea and Samaria cannot be Judenrein
Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor used the word last week at a press conference with foreign reporters. He urged them to ask whether "Palestinians would accept that Jews will live among them, or whether it is going to be totally not allowed." The two-state solution calls for the establishment of a Palestinian Authority (PA) state on Judea and Samaria land which is home to many Jewish communities.
"'Judenrein' is the term that was once used in other countries," he said during his remarks.
A similar comment was made the following day by another Likud minister while briefing journalists and diplomats, according to the associate who was quoted by Reuters.
An Israeli diplomat told Reuters that Netanyahu was using “harsh language” to mollify hawks in his coalition government after agreeing in principle to the two-state solution. "Netanyahu has done what was long considered unthinkable for a Likud leader," the diplomat said. "So now he has to talk tough."
The PA said that use of the word was a new tactic by Israel to delay negotiations. "We believe that this is simply a new strategy by Israel to delay any real outcome," said PA legislator Xavier Abu Eid. "In past negotiations, I can assure you, Israel never tried to have Jews remain in the state of Palestine."
On the issue of the prospective status of Judea and Samaria settlers, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad denied pursing a policy of Jewish cleansing. "Jews, to the extent they choose to stay and live in the state of Palestine, will enjoy those rights and certainly will not enjoy any less rights than Israeli Arabs enjoy now in the state of Israel."
Abu Eid, however, acknowledged that the PA has not discussed how settlers could become citizens, and that it remained unclear how Fayyad could claim to set long-term policy given the unresolved feud with Hamas over PA leadership.