Photo Credit: Gershon Elinson/Flash90
Children playing in the settlement of Bat Ayin.

The growth rate of Jews in Judea and Samaria inched up to 4.7% last year, far higher than the increase in the rest of the country. Approximately 360,000 Israelis now live in Judea and Samaria, and an estimated 250,000, if not more, reside in Jerusalem neighborhoods that still are considered “settlements” by the Obama administration and the European Union.

The communities of Maskiot, located in the Jordan Valley, and Har Gilo, a small area southeast of Jerusalem and not to be confused with the neighborhood of Gilo, enjoyed the largest influx.

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Since 2005, the annual growth rate in Judea and Samaria has been 5 percent, almost three times as much as the nationwide growth of 1.9 percent.

Statistics from election officials show that 51% of the population in Judea and Samaria are eligible voters, as opposed to 72% in the general Israeli population, indicating that 49% of the population in Judea and Samaria is under the age of 18, as opposed to only 28% of the population the rest of the country.

Avi Roeh, incoming chairman of the Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Council, stated, “Thank God, we are witness to an increase in number of students in the educational institutions, and especially in the grade schools. Our region is very attractive to young families and there is much demand for residents here. We expect the government to acknowledge this necessity and develop all the communities and enlarge the schools in all of Judea and Samaria.“

Miri Maoz-Ovadia, spokesperson for the Binyamin Council, the largest council in Judea and Samaria, told Tazpit News Agency that the increase in the population growth rate is evidence of the prosperity of the region. “This prosperity has been supported by a development of joint industrial areas, shopping centers open to all populations and an increase of tourism throughout the region.”

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.
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