Mideast: Israeli settlers rise sharply, 360,000 in West Bank

Jewish residents rose 5% in 2012

13 February, 17:56

A view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim A view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim

(ANSAmed) - TEL AVIV, FEBRUARY 13 - The overall number of Israelis residing in the West Bank rose by 5% in 2012, reports the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). The settlers council revealed that the number of Israeli settlers rose by 50,000 - from 312,000 to 360,000 - in Benyamin Netanyahu's four years in government. The growth rate of the Israeli population is three times the average in Israel, which stands at 1.4%. The council noted that half of the population in the West Bank is under age eighteen.

The figures do not include the Israelis living in the chain of Jewish districts in East Jerusalem, where an estimated 250,000 people live. The new chairman of the settlers council, Avi Roeh, said that ''our region is attractive to young families. We have many requests from people who would like to move here''. ''We expect the government to take note of the situation,'' he went on to say, and develop our communities''.

The inhabitants of the settlements are considered illegal by both Palestinians and the international community - and their expansion has been the subject of protest at the diplomatic level - but enjoy a variety of subsidies from the Israeli government. (ANSAmed).