The Israeli settler population in the occupied West Bank has grown at a far higher rate over the last four years, a pro-settler group has said, a period that coincides with the Trump administration’s unprecedented acceptance of settlement activity.
The report released on Wednesday by West Bank Jewish Population Stats shows the settler population growing by around 13 percent since the start of 2017 to reach 475,481.
During the same period, Israel’s population grew by around 8 percent to reach nearly 9.3 million, according to the Israeli occupation government.
The report, which is based on official government data, does not include annexed East Jerusalem, home to more than 200,000 Israeli settlers.
Baruch Gordon, the director of West Bank Jewish Population Stats, downplayed the influence of US policy, saying the annual growth rate actually declined in recent years even before the coronavirus pandemic.
The West Bank settler population grew by 2.62 percent in 2020, according to his figures, compared to 1.7 percent in ‘Israel’ as a whole.
In 2016, the settler population grew 3.59 percent.
“I don’t think any American president can influence that much, because growth on the ground is (dependent on) internal Israeli government decisions on how much construction to do and not to do,” he said.
He added, “The facts on the ground are stronger than any American foreign policy.”
Former US president Donald Trump’s administration abandoned decades of US policy by accepting the settlements and released a plan in which ‘Israel’ would have been able to keep all of them, including smaller settlements deep inside the occupied territory.
(Source / 28.01.2021)