Children play in the Hayovel neighborhood of
Children play in the Hayovel neighborhood ofIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Central Bureau of Statistics has released the most recent population statistics of Judea and Samaria (Yesha), indicating yet another nation-leading growth rate.

Despite the ten months of construction freeze that ended in September, the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria grew by more than 4.5 percent in the course of 2010 – compared to 2.9 percent in the entire country.

The number of Jews living in Yesha grew by nearly 15,000 during the year, and now totals nearly 327,800. The growth rate was somewhat stunted by the freeze; in 2009, the population grew by 5.8 percent.

These numbers do not include the areas of Jerusalem that were liberated in the Six Day War of 1967, where another estimated 230,000 Jews live.

Netanyahu: Hevron, Beit El, Shilo are Ours
It was not widely reported that last week, in his biannual appearance before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said as follows: "It should be remembered that we, as Jews, have been within the broad borders of the Land of Israel not tens or hundreds of years, but thousands of years.  When the Palestinians talk about historic rights, they should remember that they have been there a shorter time.  The rights of the Jews to Hevron, Beit El, Rachel's Tomb and Shilo are greater and much more significant.  Therefore these places should remain in our hands in any arrangement."

MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), head of the of the National Union party, revealed the latest population figures in a Channel Two interview. He said that at current growth rates and without a construction freeze, the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria can be expected to hit a half-million by the middle of 2018, i.e., in only 7.5 years.

"The extensive growth rate in our Biblical homeland," Katz said, "expresses the deep and strong will of the People of Israel to settle its land in its entirety as the Land of its Forefathers, to which only they have full rights."

Among the various communities, Bracha grew by 11.4 percent to 1,672; Givat Ze'ev (8.2 percent) – 12.643; Beit El (3 percent) – 5,867; Beitar Illit (6.4 percent) – nearly 40,000; Modiin Illit (Kiryat Sefer) (7.7 percent) to nearly 50,000.

The 14 communities of Gush Etzion grew by 5 percent to 16,583 and the 30 towns of the Shomron Regional Council shot up by 6 percent to nearly 26,000.

As the popular Israeli song goes, "This melody cannot be stopped…"