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600,000 Jews in Yesha, Eastern Jerusalem May Stymie US Plans

The move to Yesha and Jerusalem continues to outstrip growth elsewhere and is a further obstacle to US policy that “settlements are illegitimate."
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 7/27/2009, 9:50 AM

Israel news photo

There are now more than 600,000 Jews living in Yesha (Judea and Samaria) and various neighborhoods of Jerusalem, including eastern Jerusalem, and sections in the north and south of the capital that were restored to the Jewish State in the Six-Day War in 1967 - but which the United States never has recognized as part of Israel. The Obama administration, continuing a change that began last when Condoleezza Rice was Secretary of State, has labeled the neighborhoods, such as Har Homa and Gilo, as “settlements.”

The number of Jews living in Judea and Samaria alone has crossed 300,000, and the growth rate by the end of the year is likely to reach five percent or more, creating an obstacle to U.S. President Barack Obama's campaign against the communities as “illegitimate.”

Most of the growth has come in cities, such as Modi'in and Beitar Illit, which generally are lumped with smaller towns and hilltop outposts as “settlements.” The figures, issued by the Civil Administration, do not include residents of several outposts.

The growth rate in Judea and Samaria, known as Yesha, was 2.3 percent for the first six months of the year, according to the report. However, the growth rate by the end of the year may be more than twice as much because of a traditionally large increase in home sales and rentals during the summer vacation.

The move to Judea and Samaria probably would be higher, but American-imposed building restrictions have prevented people from building their own houses. Real estate agents have reported that prices for the remaining empty houses have soared as people race to move into the remaining supply of housing.

More Jews also are moving into eastern Jerusalem, where the U.S. has concentrated efforts to impose a building freeze. Approximately 300 families, most of them with several children, are living in several neighborhoods, some of them where Jews owned homes nearly 100 years ago but were expelled by the British during Arab pogroms in the period of the British Mandate. Hundreds of other families were forced to leave the Old City when it fell during the War of Independence in 1948.

National Union party chairman MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) responded to the Civil Administration statistics by calling on every Jewish family to "give birth to an additional child this year as a Zionist response to the decrees of Barack Hussein Obama."