Speaking at a Calcalist convention, the prime minister said, "This is a one-time decision and it is temporary. We will go back to building at the end of the freeze."
Netanyahu stated that the freeze did not apply to 500 West bank housing units that had already been approved or to public structures such as schools and synagogues, which he said would be built throughout the 10-month period.
I know the decision not to approve any additional construction is not easy to accept," he said. "It's not easy for the settlers, and it's hard even for me."
The prime minister commended the settlers and called them "an integral part of our people".
"They donate, they serve, they volunteer, they are our brothers and sisters, so I would like to tell them as well as all citizens of Israel and our Palestinian neighbors that this decision is temporary, just as it says in the Cabinet decision and as I have personally stressed in closed an open forums," he said.
Netanyahu added that any future accord in Judea and Samaria "will be decided at the end of negotiations, and not before".
"I hope the Palestinians will quit their refusal to launch peace talks. The Palestinians need this peace no less than we do," he concluded.
Peace Now Director Yariv Oppenheimer commented on Netanyahu's statement, saying it effectively leaves the move "empty and irrelevant."
"The moderate elements in the Palestinian Authority cannot accept a statement saying Netanyahu will continue to build settlement before and after the 'temporary freeze'," he said.
President Shimon Peres said, "Prime Minister Netanyahu has made a bold move and some brave decisions. Someone like me might have wanted him to do more, but this is more than we thought he would do."