West Bank Jewish numbers up 3.4% in 2017: settlers

A construction site is seen in the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev, in the occupied West Bank December 22, 2016. (Reuters)
Updated 24 January 2018

West Bank Jewish numbers up 3.4% in 2017: settlers

JERUSALEM: The Jewish population of the Israeli-occupied West Bank grew by 3.4 percent to 435,708 in 2017, the main organization representing the settlers said on Tuesday.
The figures, released by the Yesha Council, exclude the estimated 200,000 Israelis living in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem.
The overall number of Israeli citizens has been growing by an average of two percent annually.
A statement by the council welcomed the latest growth figures while lamenting what it called a “silent freeze” in construction of settler homes.
“The government announces construction in Judaea and Samaria but we do not see the results on the ground,” it said, using the Hebrew biblical term for the West Bank.
On January 11 authorities approved more than 1,100 new West Bank homes for Israelis, settlement watchdog Peace Now said.
That followed approval of 6,742 settler building projects last year, the NGO said, the highest figure since 2013.
Israel faced sharp criticism from the administration of former US president Barack Obama over settlement construction.
But that has not been the case under his successor Donald Trump, and Israeli officials have sought to take advantage.
The Yesha Council is made up predominantly of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who account for the overwhelming majority of residents of the two biggest settlements.
They are Modiin Ilit, west of Ramallah, with a population of 70,119, and Beitar Ilit, southwest of Jerusalem, with 56,485 inhabitants.
The ultra-Orthodox comprise about 10 percent of the overall Israeli population.
The third most populated settlement in the West Bank is Maaleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem, with a mixed population of 40,996 secular and religiously observant Jews.
Israeli settlements are seen as illegal under international law and major obstacles to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Prominent members of Netanyahu’s right-wing government openly oppose Palestinian statehood and the settler lobby has strong political influence.
Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem in often confrontational proximity to nearly three million Palestinians.


Rouhani says Iran budget set to resist US sanctions by curbing oil dependence

Updated 33 min 22 sec ago

Rouhani says Iran budget set to resist US sanctions by curbing oil dependence

  • Rouhani said the draft state budget was designed to resist US sanctions

TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday presented to parliament what he called a “budget of resistance” against crippling sanctions imposed by arch-enemy the United States.

“Next year, similar to the current year, our budget is a budget of resistance and perseverance against sanctions,” Rouhani told parliament in remarks broadcast on state radio.

“This budget announces to the world that despite sanctions we will manage the country, especially in terms of oil,” he added.

The budget for the financial year starting late March 2020 comes after fuel price hikes that were imposed in mid-November triggered deadly demonstrations across the Islamic republic.

In his speech, Rouhani announced a 15 percent increase for public sector wages in a country whose economy has been battered by US sanctions.

US President Donald Trump began imposing punitive measures in May 2018, after unilaterally withdrawing from an accord that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for limits on its nuclear program.

The International Monetary Fund has forecast that Iran’s economy will contract by 9.5 percent this year.