The Israeli settlement project in the occupied West Bank and Jordan Valley has failed, a former commander of Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip has said.
"The annual increase in the number of settlers has fallen dramatically, reaching 10.3 per cent in 1996, while in 2016 it fell to only 3.4 per cent," said Shaul Arieli.
In 1996, there was a 68 per cent increase in Jews leaving Israeli cities to settle in settlements in the occupied West Bank, while in 2016 the figure dropped to only 22 per cent, he said in an article published in Haaretz today.
He questioned former army minister Moshe Ya'alon who claimed that the West Bank could accommodate a million or two million Jews. Arieli stressed that the decline in Jewish immigration to Israel makes such promotion a form of illusion.
The biggest indicator that the Zionist project had failed, Arieli said, was the fact that settlements in the Jordan Valley were unable to attract Jews.
He revealed that former Foreign Minister Yigal Allon and former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "called for the introduction of a million Jews to settle in the settlements of the valley," adding that in spite of this, there had been no increase in the population.
Five-thousand settlers had moved to the Jordan Valley over the past 50 years, not the millions the authorities had hoped for, he explained.
The international community considers all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories illegal.