Israel’s population grew by 1.9% at the national level in the first six months of 2013, with above average growth of 2.12% in Judea and Samaria and an even greater 4.8% in the Har Hebron Regional Council area, Israel Hayom reported, citing population registry data released Tuesday.
The figures come as the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday expanded its list of “national priority” communities eligible for government subsidies, which included a record number of Judea and Samaria settlements. The government hopes to encourage more people to move to the communities on the “national priorities” list, while the expanded list and continued population growth drew criticism from those who feel the population growth in Judea and Samaria will impede the “two state solution.”
Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer, who opposes the settlements, released a statement saying that “at this rate, pretty soon the two-state solution will no longer be viable.”
Israel Hayom said the population in the Gush Etzion Regional Council rose by 4.1%, and by 3.2% in the Samaria Regional Council. In Har Gilo, south of Jerusalem, the population grew by 21%; at Maskiot and Rotem, in the Jordan Valley, growth was 14%; and in Nahliel, in the Binyamin region, the population rose by 10%.
The data suggests that the majority of new Jewish residents in Judea and Samara opted to move to more established settlements situated within the large blocs, as the secluded communities outside the blocs “only” gained 2,400 new residents.
“The council launched a growth campaign a year ago, and these are the fruits. The Har Hebron communities have become a magnet for couples and families who seek value-based education, quality of life and to make a national contribution,” said Har Hebron Regional Council head Tzviki Bar-Hai according to Israel Hayom.
“Due to the high demand, the government needs to renew construction and issue new tenders in the settlement blocs,” added Yesha Council Deputy Director Yigal Dilmoni according to the newspaper.