The population of illegal Israeli settlements is soaring at twice the rate of the population within Israel's 1967 borders, Israeli military radio reported Tuesday, citing government statistics.
In just the first 6 months of 2013, the population at these settlements grew by 2.1 percent, as compared to a 2 percent annual growth rate within Israel's 1967 borders.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank expanded by 7,700 people, bringing the total population to 367,000, according to the military radio.
Yet, other estimates put the population of settlers at over 500,000, living in over 100 settlements that slice through the West Bank and—bolstered by Israeli checkpoints, soldiers, military outposts, and Israeli-only roads—cut off Palestinian from transportation networks, villages, water supply, and agricultural land.
Critics charge that the revelations lay bare the injustice of the Israeli occupation and the complicity of the U.S. as Secretary of State John Kerry champions the so-called peace process while Israel flouts international law.
"This news is a call to action to everyday people, civil society, to hold Israel accountable in a way that the U.S. government has not," Anna Baltzer with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation—a coalition of more than 400 organizations nationwide organizing to end U.S. institutional support for Israel's occupation and apartheid policies—told Common Dreams.
"As the movement to end U.S. support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians grows every day," Baltzer said, "we must redouble our efforts to end U.S. military aid to Israel and impose boycotts, divestment, and sanctions on Israel—time-honored tactics similarly and effectively employed to challenge Apartheid South Africa and the Jim Crow South in similar struggles for freedom, justice, and equality."
The revelation of settlement expansion comes on the heels of the Israeli cabinet's decision Sunday to give state subsidies to dozens of illegal West Bank settlements, terming them "national priority sites."