At Obama Israel Summit, Netanyahu Will Defend Settlement Growth, Says Aide

11/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will defend the expansion of West Bank settlements when he meets U.S. President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, the premier's spokesman said Monday.

"You have never heard the prime minister say he would freeze settlement building. The opposite is true," Nir Hefetz told Army Radio when asked about the tripartite summit, which will take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The meeting was seen in Israel as a success for Netanyahu, who has refused to agree to a demand from the U.S. and the Palestinians for a total halt to West Bank settlement construction. The Palestinians say the meeting will not constitute negotiations, since Abbas has refused to hold peace talks with Netanyahu until Israel freezes settlement construction.

"There are some politicians... who see halting building or ceding national territory or harming the settlements in Judea and Samaria as an asset, something that can help Israel," Hefetz said. "Prime Minister Netanyahu cannot be counted among those people."

Using Israel's term for the West Bank, he added: "He sees the settlements in Judea and Samaria as a Zionist enterprise and the settlers in Judea and Samaria as his - our - brothers."

Read more on Haaretz.

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