The number of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank has crossed 300,000, according to figures published by Israeli daily Haaretz on Monday. Citing Israeli military statistics, Haaretz reported that as of June 30, there were 304,569 settlers living in the West Bank, a 2.3 percent increase since January. These figures did not include all the residents of settler outposts.
Growth was seen most in religious settlements, mainly ultra-Orthodox settlements. In addition, the report identified a 4.4 percent increase in settlers living outside municipal areas.
The number of settlers has more than doubled since the mid-1990s in the West Bank where nearly 2.5 million Palestinians currently live.
The issue of settlements is one of the main areas of contention between Israel and the Palestinians. US President Barak Obama has recently pressured Israel to freeze all construction activities in Israeli settlements, a request refused by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.