Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Yesha's Jewish Population Swells Despite Expulsion

By Ezra HaLevi

Despite the forced removal of 10,000 residents, the construction of the Partition Wall and ongoing terror attacks, the number of Jews living in Yesha (Judea and Samaria) increased in 2005.

According to figures released by the Peace Now group and confirmed by the Central Bureau of Statistics, 12,000 new residents moved into Judea and Samaria, resulting in a net population growth following the expulsion of close to 10,000 people from communities in Gaza and northern Samaria. The number of Jews living in Judea and Samaria, not counting eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, is 250,000.

The report also says that the natural growth of the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria continues at a far greater rate than that of those residing within the pre-1967 Green Line. Residents of Yesha have an average annual growth rate of 5.5 percent, whereas the rest of Israel has a 1.8 growth rate.

Additionally, despite the destruction of permanent structures in several outlying neighborhoods, 33 of the 120 long-standing communities Peace Now defines as "illegal outposts" have built permanent structures on their land, including synagogues, mikvaot (ritual baths) and community social halls.

The Peace Now report also laments the continued construction in Jewish towns located on the eastern side of the Partition Wall. Though the government has largely frozen funding to towns located outside the fence-route, private contractors and individuals have continued to build in places like Tekoa, Beit El, Itamar, Yitzhar, Hevron and Ofra.

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