Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90
The town of Neve Daniel in Gush Etzion

Following the announcement Sunday that Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to approve thousands of new housing units in Judea and Samaria in the coming days, including in settlements outside the “settlement blocks” such as Gush Etzion and Ariel, Peace Now published the population figures in the more isolated settlements.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, of the estimated 400,000 Israelis living in Judea and Samaria in 2016, as many as 172,185 of them live outside the large settlement blocs. And according to the data provided by Peace Now, in 2016 alone 6,427 settlers found new homes outside the blocs.

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According to the Peace Now Settlement Watch team, between 2009 and 2016, 14,463 housing units were built in the settlements, out of which 9,899 units were outside the large blocs. In other words, 68.4% of the construction in those seven years was done outside the settlement blocs.

According to the data, the settlers constitute 4.6% of Israel’s population today, with the Haredi settlements of Modi’in Illit and Betar Illit leading in population size. In addition, there was an increase of 3.5% in the settler population in 2016, compared with a 2% increase in the total population of Israel.

“The figures, as well as the construction announcement last night, show that Netanyahu is an irresponsible leader who abandons Israel’s political and security interests,” Nadav Gal-On of Peace Now said in response to the above figures.

That aside, it is actually heart-warming to discover that US plans to squeeze Israeli communities into a 2% area of Judea and Samaria – meaning the settlement blocks – would have to also involve the evacuation of close to 175,000 Jews in hundreds of stand-alone settlements, God forbid. It won’t be an easy chore.

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