The number of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank has increased by 15,000 in the past year, exceeding 350,000 and further complicating a possible two-state solution.
According to Israel’s population registry, cited in a report by The Guardian, the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank has increased by 4.5 percent since last year and has doubled in the past 12 years.
The influx makes challenging the evacuation of settlements in the case of a two-state solution.
In addition to these figures, 300,000 Jews already live in the pre-1967 border of East Jerusalem, according to report by pro-government newspaper Israel Hayom cited in The Guardian.
Palestinians argue that such growing numbers of Israeli settlers will prevent the formation of their intended state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
While violent attacks by settlers targeting Palestinians’ property, mosques and farmland have increased by 150 percent over the past year, as announced by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Thursday, all settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem are considered illegal according to international law.
The United States, a staunch supporter of the state of Israel, has consistently criticized Israel’s settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts,” Patrick Ventrell, U.S. state department spokesman, according to The Guardian.
But settlers' leader Dani Dayan wrote in a New York Times article that Jewish settlement "an irreversible fact."
"Trying to stop settlement expansion is futile ... Western governments must reassess their approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They should acknowledge that no final status solution is imminent."
“Given the irreversibility of the huge Israeli civilian presence in Judea and Samaria and continuing Palestinian rejectionism, Western governments must reassess their approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Dayan wrote.