Settler growth rate stagnant for third year in a row

Much of the reason can be assigned to the fact that few new people are moving beyond the Green Line and into settlements

A general view shows the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit in the West Bank April 7, 2019 (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)
A general view shows the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit in the West Bank April 7, 2019
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)
The setter growth rate remained stagnant for the third year in a row at 3.5% according to data published on the Central Bureau of Statistics website in honor of the new year.
At that number, the West Bank settler growth rate in 2018 was almost twice that of the fairly stagnant national rate of 1.9%.
But it is far less than the 5.3% settler growth rate in 2009, a number triple the 1.8% national growth rate that year, which is when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office.
Some of the stagnation is due to a drop in the number of Israelis moving across the Green Line into the settlements. According to the CBS, new settlers made up 29% of the growth in 2009, while in 2018, they made up 12.5% of that growth. An increase in the number of births has helped keep the population numbers steady, with 71% natural growth in 2009, compared to 87.5% natural growth rate in 2018, according to the CBS.
Yigal Dilmoni, head of the Yesha Council (the umbrella organization representing communities in Judea and Samaria), said that the growth rate had been artificially high due the small number of people living in Judea and Samaria, but that as the population inched toward half-a-million, the growth rate has naturally dropped.
In 2009, for example, the settler population stood at 296,700 compared to 427,800 in 2018. Put in real terms, it means there are 131,100 more Israelis living in the West Bank, than there were nine years ago.
Dilmoni said that Yesha has its own database, which shows a population of 448,672 in 2018, but agreed that even their numbers show a stagnant growth rate, which he said stood at 3%.
“This is due to delays in large projects and the lack of authorized plans,” he said.
The Yesha Council, he said, is pushing for authorization of those plans so the area can be developed, he said.
According to the CBS, settler building starts in the first half of 2019 dropped by 28% from 1,160 starts from January to June of 2018, compared to 830 in that same period this year. The number of finishes went down by 26%, from 1,104 in the first half of 2018, to 812 finished units in the first half of 2019.
Peace Now, however, said that it was still significant that the settler growth rate was double that of the nation, even though it is only 4.7% of the overall national population.
“In order to save its existence, Israel would eventually have to end the occupation, yet any house built in the settlements is making evacuation more difficult and painful,” Peace Now said.