Natural growth – not!
MAALEH ADUMIM, West Bank (AP) — Israelis moving to the West Bank accounted for more than a third of settler population growth in recent years, undercutting Israel’s argument that it is continuing settlement construction only to accommodate growing families already living there.
The so-called “natural growth” rationale for building on land the Palestinians claim for a future state has vaulted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into an unusually vocal and public clash with the Obama administration, which has come out strong against continued settlement expansion.
Opponents say the government invokes “natural growth” as a cover to build thousands of houses across the West Bank, including hundreds that Palestinian laborers are building in Maaleh Adumim, a major settlement outside Jerusalem.
“The Israelis are playing a game of deception by what they call natural growth,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics supports that argument, showing that in 2007, 36 percent of all new settlers had moved from Israel or abroad.