CMEP Bulletin: Increasing Numbers Cause Concern for West Bank
weekly policy update from Churches for Middle East Peace
West Bank Settlers on the Rise…
In June, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank reached over 350,000 according to Israel’s Interior Ministry. 2011 was a record year for settlement population growth and almost double the number from 2000.
Settler leaders hailed the occasion and promised that the settlements will never stop expanding. Israeli Knesset member Yaakov Katz told one Israeli paper that the settlers are on pace to reach one million in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and “then the revolution will be completed.”
Chairman of the settler group Yesha Council Dani Dayan wrote an op-ed for the New York Times asking the international community to stop pushing for a two-state solution and accept that “settlers are here to stay.” Instead of pressing for a settlement freeze or calling for settlements to be dismantled, Dayan proposes that countries work together to make the situation more bearable by improving and maintaining the situation on the ground.
Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran looked at the numbers skeptically. In her Settlement Watch blog she explains that the settlers are touting inflated statistics.
With the number of settlers growing rapidly, Palestinians say they are in a frustrating position. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told the UK’s Independent that settlements are impeding the peace process. He criticizes the international community, especially the U.S. and EU for giving Israel “no consequences whatever” for the expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. He also cites a report saying that attacks on Palestinian civilians and property by settlers have increased 150 percent this year.
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- …While West Bank demolitions also increase
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