Haaretz reported on Friday that there are now 590,000 Jewish settlers living in official settlements across the occupied West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.
The newspaper pointed out that 380,000 settlers live in the West Bank, while the number in occupied Jerusalem now stands at 210,000. Almost half of the West Bank settlers live outside the major settlement blocs.
All of Israel's settlements are illegal under international law. The statistics, Haaretz pointed out, do not include thousands of settlers who live on occupied privately-owned Palestinian land.
According to Peace Now, an Israeli NGO, there are 97 such arbitrary clusters built on private Palestinian land.
Israeli government statistics show that when these settlers are included, the total number of Jewish colonists stands at around 700,000 living in 150 settlements in the occupied territories. This amounts to 5 per cent of the total population of Israel.
Israel has occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967. Settlements are considered the major obstacle to peace.
In December last year, the UN Security Council issued a resolution reiterating that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal.
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