Jewish settlements and outposts in the West Bank expanded more rapidly in 2008 than the previous year, Peace now reported on Wednesday. The timing of the report is no coincidence, and it was released on the day US Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell was scheduled to arrive in Israel.
Mitchell has spoken out against the illegal construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in the past.
According to the report, there were 285,800 settlers living in the West Bank as of 2008, with 1,518 new structures built in the territories last year, including 261 outposts.
Sixty-one percent of the new structures were built west of the route of the separation fence and 39% were built east of it. A quarter of the new structures east of the fence were built in outposts.
At least 1,257 new structures were built in existing settlements, including 748 permanent buildings and 509 caravans compared to 800 structures in 2007 – a 60% rise. In addition the ground was prepared for the construction of 63 new structures.