Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the Nazi term ‘Judenrein’ in a recent meeting with the German foreign minister to condemn the Palestinian demand that West Bank settlements be removed, a confidant of the premier has said.

“Judea and Samaria cannot be Judenrein,” the confidant quoted the prime minister as telling Frank-Walter Steinmeier earlier this week.

Asked how Germany’s top diplomat responded to hearing the term used by the Nazis to refer to areas “cleansed of Jews”, the confidant said, “What could he do? He basically just nodded.”

According to the confidant, Netanyahu had encouraged cabinet colleagues to deploy the term in their defense of the settlements and of Israel’s insistence that Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state.

Israel is facing unprecedented U.S. pressure to dismantle settlements to make way for a Palestinian state in the West Bank, an area also known to Jews as Judea and Samaria.

Briefing foreign reporters last week, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor urged them to ask whether “Palestinians would accept that Jews will live among them, or whether it is going to be totally not allowed”.

“‘Judenrein’ is the term that was once used in other countries,” Meridor said, in remarks echoed the next day by another Likud minister who briefed journalists and diplomats.