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Jewish Settlements' Cost Estimated at $560 Million

The annual expenditure is for the benefit of 220,000 settlers, an Israeli newspaper says.

September 24, 2003|From Associated Press

JERUSALEM — The Israeli government spends at least $560 million a year on subsidies, infrastructure and education for 220,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Israeli daily Haaretz said Tuesday.

The figure does not include military spending.

Since capturing the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israel has spent at least $10.1 billion on settlements, Haaretz said.

Successive Israeli governments have refused to disclose how much they spend on settlements. Haaretz said it compiled the figure after three months of research, including interviews with dozens of experts and government officials.

The settlements are seen as one barrier to reaching a peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinians say Israel uses the settlements to grab land that they claim for a Palestinian state.

The number of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip hit 220,000 last year, an increase of 5.7% from 2001, according to a report released Tuesday by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics.

The settlers' growth rate far outstripped the total Israeli growth rate of 1.6% and was more than double the growth rate in any region of Israel, according to the report.

Nearly 5,000 of the 12,000 new settlers moved into the settlements from Israel or other countries. The remainder of the growth was attributed to births.

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