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Trump-era in his absence, Israeli settlement development continues

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            According to numbers released on Thursday by a pro-settler group, Israel’s West Bank settler population increased last year, despite heightened American pressure to limit development on occupied area that Palestinians desire for a future state.

As of January 30, Israel’s settler population has increased by over 3.2 percent in 13 months to 490,493. In comparison, Israel’s total yearly growth rate is roughly 1.7 percent. The government of Joe Biden has reverted to the former attitude, condemning settlement growth. Palestinians see settlements as the primary impediment to peace. The political system of Israel is controlled by pro-settler parties who regard the West Bank as the biblical and historical heartland of the Jewish people.

According to Hagit Ofran, a specialist with the anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now, “as far as I know, the Americans are attempting to halt it and have had very limited success”. The current Israeli administration has committed to maintain the status quo, with neither a settlement freeze nor official annexation. Parts of the West Bank are administered by the increasingly authoritarian and unpopular Palestinian Authority, which was founded through accords with Israel in the 1990s, while Gaza is controlled by the Islamic militant organisation Hamas, from whom Israel withdrew troops and settlements in 2005.

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