The Jewish population in the West Bank is expected to grow faster than in any other Israeli district in 2005, to more than 243,000 people, the government reported Thursday.
The settlers live among more than 2 million Palestinians.
The settlement population at the end of September was 242,700, up from 235,100 at the end of December 2004, the Central Bureau of Statistics said. If nine-month growth continues at the same rate, then the settler population would expand 4.3 percent in all of 2005, to 243,100, the bureau said.
Natural growth was the predominant reason for the rise, it added. Israel's overall population is expected to grow 1.7 percent annually, the bureau said.