The number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank has risen by 3.9 percent since 2015, twice the growth rate of the Israeli population, a settler group says.
The Yesha Council said on Thursday the number of Israeli settlers living in the occupied West Bank surged beyond 421,000 in 2016.
The figure does not include over 200,000 other Israeli settlers living in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
The international community, including Tel Aviv’s own allies, views Israeli settlements as illegal under the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied territory.
Since the January 20 inauguration of US President Donald Trump, an ardent supporter of Israel, Tel Aviv has launched a major land grab drive in defiance of global calls for the regime to stop its settlement activities on the occupied Palestinian lands.
Tel Aviv has, in recent weeks, approved the construction of some 5,500 settler units in the West Bank and around 500 others in East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Late on Monday, the Israeli Knesset passed a controversial bill that retroactively legalizes thousands of settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank.
According to Settlement watchdog Peace Now, the law covers over 50 rogue outposts built on at least 800 hectares of Palestinian private land.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres blasted the law, emphasizing its illegal status under international law and warning that it “will have far-reaching legal consequences for Israel.”
The highly-controversial law is in clear violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which calls on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.
The resolution, which was adopted in December 2016, also states that Israel’s settlement construction has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”
Over 230 settlements have been built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future independent state.