Peace Now, Interior Ministry Spar Over Yesha Population
Interior Ministry officials reported Thursday that 350,150 Israelis live in Judea and Samaria, an increase of 15,580 from last year.
Peace Now activist Hagit Ofran said the figures may be inflated because they are based on Israel’s population registry rather than the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics.
“The growth occurs mostly in ultra-Orthodox settlements,” she told JTA. “Unfortunately the government promotes the construction of settlements and encourages the Israeli public to move to settlements.”
Including eastern Jerusalem, the total population of Jews living beyond the pre-1967 lines is approximately 650,000 according to the Interior Ministry.
However, Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan wrote in the New York Times on Thursday that the number including Jerusalem was closer to 550,000.
In the op-ed, Dayan wrote that Jewish settlment in Judea and Samaria is "here to stay" and that "neglecting this fact in diplomatic talks will not change the reality on the ground; it only makes the negotiations more likely to fail.”
“Our presence in all of Judea and Samaria -- not just in the so-called settlement blocs -- is an irreversible fact,” he wrote, adding that “Trying to stop settlement expansion is futile."
In 2000, fewer than 200,000 Jews lived in Judea and Samaria.
National Union party chairman MK Yaakov Katz said that “within four years,” there will be more than 1 million Jews living beyond the pre-1967 lines.
Katz declared, "Then the revolution will be completed."
Demographers note that current growth trends indicate a Jewish population growth beyond the pre-1967 lines not exceeding 100,000 by 2016.