Settlement population in West Bank exceeds 300,000: report 2009-07-27 15:59:53   Print

    JERUSALEM, July 27 (Xinhua) -- The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank has exceeded 300,000, reported Israeli daily Ha'aretz, quoting statistics gathered by a military body.

    Figures from the Israel Defense Forces Civil Administration, a unit responsible for coordinating civil issues between Israel and the Palestinians, show that "as of June 30, the settlements had 304,569 residents, a 2.3 percent increase since January," said the report.

    These statistics do not include all the residents of unauthorized settlement outposts, and "generally, growth rates are higher in the second half of the year, because many families move over the summer," noted the report.

    Settlements built on the Palestinian territories are one of the core issues impeding the unwieldy peace process between the two neighbors. The international community, including the United States, Israel's most important ally, has been urging Israel to totally freeze its settlement constructions, yet the Jewish state has so far refused to yield to that demand.

    Amid an uncomfortable strain on Israeli-U.S. ties over the settlement issue, a group of high-ranking U.S. officials, including special envoy George Mitchell and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, is visiting the region this week, in a bid to placate Israel and advance the Middle East peace process.

Special Report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts         

Editor: Anne Tang
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