NOTE: all Israeli settlements in the West Bank violate the fourth Geneva Convention and have been condemned by four UN Security Council resolutions. The outposts are illegal even according to Israeli law. The 190,000 settlers in East Jerusalem bring the total number of West Bank settlers to over 450,000.
The annual report released Wednesday by the left-wing Peace Now organization says that approximately 2,000 settlers are currently living at 102 outposts in the West Bank.
In 2006, the first year of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s term, no new outposts were established, but building in the existing outposts continued at a pace similar to that of 2005.
The study quotes Interior Ministry data as saying that 268,000 Israelis lived in settlements in 2006, an increase of 5 percent from the previous year. One outpost was evacuated last year, the report says.
The report indicates that while no new outposts were established in 2006, there were 251 changes of various kinds, including the addition of caravans, construction and road paving.
The number of caravans in the outposts rose by 90 in 2006, the report says. In total, 127 caravans were added and 37 destroyed.
Permanent construction was carried out in 30 outposts and road paving in seven.
Peace Now identified 22 instances of new construction, ten of the expansion of existing buildings, nine of continuation of existing structures and eight of preparing ground for construction.
Of the changes that took place at the outposts in 2006, 80 percent were carried out in locations east of the West Bank separation fence. Even so, the majority of the expansion and construction work was carried out before March 2001.
The report identified expansion in 27 of the outposts founded since March 2001.
The government of then-prime minister Ariel Sharon promised U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on several occasions to evacuate the outposts.
In 2006, tenders were issued for the construction of 952 housing units, compared with 1,184 the previous year.
All of the tenders were issued since June 2006, following the elections of late March, and all related to preparations for government-authorized construction in settlements west of the separation fence.
Figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics indicate that in the first nine months of 2006, 1,272 construction projects were launched – an annual rate of 1,700 projects.
This figure is lower than that of 2005, in which 1,727 tenders were issued, and slightly lower than that of 2004, in which 1,926 were issued.
The report indicates that 1,471 changes of various kinds were made in 2006 in the outposts, 68 percent of them in settlements west of the separation fence.
Data for changes made in outposts has never before been included in the group’s reports.
The highest number of changes, 492, was made within the regional council of Mateh Binyamin.
Approximately 250 changes were made in Samaria regional council and 199 in Gush Etzion.