Thursday, April 23, 2009

Israeli West Bank Settlement Growth, 1972 - 2008

UPDATED, see below.

I've heard critics of Israel claim repeatedly that the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank has increased every year since the settlements were founded. This seems counter-intuitive given that you would expect Israel to reign in the settlements during periods of peace negotiations with the Palestinians. So, being a data geek, I decided to check the numbers myself.

I quickly found that it was difficult to locate credible and comprehensive data on settlement population. Lots of sources give partial (and often conflicting) numbers, but I couldn't find any single source with complete population by year back to the early 70's when the settlements were started. As a result I decided to do my own research, and what I discovered is quite interesting.

The critics are right. West Bank settlement population has indeed increased every single year. But what's really surprising is that the general trend has not changed significantly even when Israel was intensely negotiating a two-state agreement with the Palestinians. This implies that Israel has never actually been serious about a two-state solution.

Here's a chart showing West Bank settlement population from 1972 to 2008. Click on it for a larger version. All the data is from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.

The data is listed below. The 2008 number is preliminary. Caveats: For a couple of the years I had to calculate the total from the populations of individual settlements. I checked this by doing the same for a year where I had the total from the Bureau of Statistics, and the result matched within a percent. It was necessary to estimate population for a few smaller settlements for the missing years based on their population trends. I reconciled, as best I could, conflicting numbers in different reports from the Bureau of Statistics by again going back to the individual settlement numbers. Many reports are partially or completely in Hebrew, which complicated my research and undoubtedly increased the risk of error. Despite these qualifications, I believe this data is as accurate and complete as reasonably possible.



2008 285,800 (preliminary)
2007 282,000
2006 268,400
2005 258,988
2004 234,487
2003 224,669
2002 214,722
2001 198,535
2000 192,976
1999 177,411
1998 163,300
1997 154,400
1996 142,700
1995 133,200
1994 126,200
1993 111,600
1992 101,100
1991 90,300
1990 78,600
1989 69,800
1988 63,600
1987 57,700
1986 51,100
1985 44,100
1984 35,200
1983 22,800
1982 21,000
1981 16,119
1980 12,424
1979 10,000
1978 7,361
1977 4,400
1976 3,176
1975 2,581
1974 2,019
1973 1,514
1972 1,182

UPDATE: In an article published on 6/1/2009, the New York Times claims that previously unpublished Israeli documents show that Israel has approved plans to almost double the number of housing units in West Bank settlements over the next twenty years, from 58,800 to 105,300.

1 comment:

Ilse said...

This is fantastic!