A Palestinian expert in international law has revealed that the number of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is now 469, of which 29 are in Jerusalem. The settlements outside the Holy City house more than 500,000 Jewish settlers. All settlements in occupied territory are regarded as illegal under international law.
Dr. Hanna Issa pointed out that about 9,500 Jews have settled in the Jordan Valley, putting pressure on the 65,000 Palestinians who are the rightful owners of the land. The valley represents 29 per cent of the West Bank, with an area of almost 6,000 square kilometres. "Israel is investing four and a half billion dollars a year in the occupied Jordan Valley," he revealed.
The number of Israeli settlements in occupied Jerusalem is now 29, he added, which are inhabited by 350,000 illegal settlers. Sixteen of these settlements have been annexed unilaterally by Israel in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians Authority considers to be the capital of a future State of Palestine within the borders of June 1967.
"Settlements are spreading everywhere, threatening the Palestinian presence," said Issa. "They split Palestinian territory into cantons."
Ongoing settlement activity has accelerated under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Palestinian Authority insists on a total freeze of settlement building before peace negotiations can resume.