Last updated on: 7/31/2015 10:57:04 AM PST
Who Are the Israeli Settlers in the Palestinian Territories?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The Council for European Palestinian Relations, an independent nonprofit which promotes dialogue between European, Palestinian and Arab parliamentarians and policy-makers, in the "Illegal Israeli Settlements," section of its website, available from thecepr.org (accessed July 20, 2015), wrote:

"Settlers living in the blocks surrounding Jerusalem largely identify themselves as 'economic settlers' - those who have been enticed to settle in occupied lands by the variety of public and private incentives offered by the government. While most government incentives for settlers, such as grants and tax breaks, were eliminated under Prime Minister Ariel. Sharon, Israelis can often still obtain more advantageous mortgages for homes in settlements.

In contrast, the settlers who have populated the area around East Jerusalem, Nablus and Hebron, for example, are doing so based on extreme religious convictions. These individuals are known as members of the 'Gush Emunim' or Bloc of the Faithful. These settlers believe that Israel's success in the 1967 war was a sign of messianic redemption, and today they view the settler movement as the return of the Jewish people to their biblical homeland... These religious, or 'ideological,' settlers are relatively few — around 130,000 of the total half-a-million."

July 20, 2015 - Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) 

Eyal Weizman, PhD, Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, University of London, in his 2012 book Hollow Land: Israel's Architecture of Occupation, wrote:

"With exception of the national-religious Gush Emunim [Bloc of the Faithful], which inhabited the mountain ridges of the West Bank, the majority of settlers moved into suburban settlements located close to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, only a few kilometres beyond the 1967 Green Line. They were drawn there by the promise of high living standards – a better quality of life at a very affordable price… The population mostly consists of secular, middle-class Israelis, but includes two other groups encouraged by the government to move into the area: new immigrants from the former Soviet republics and the ultra-Orthodox non-Zionist communities. The latter, large families of limited economic means, were concentrated in dense, custom-built settlements… close to the Green Line and on the road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These settlements have been designed to cater for their particular way of life, and have also been a magnet for large corporations establishing factories where ultra-Orthodox women are employed as cheap manual labor in the high-tech industries."

2012 - Eyal Weizman, PhD 

The United Nations Human Rights Council, in its Feb. 7, 2013 report titled "Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission to Investigate the Implications of the Israeli Settlements on the Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the Palestinian People throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem," available at the United Nations Human Rights Council website, wrote:

"The mission was informed that settlers may be divided broadly into three categories.

The first are those who have moved on quality-of-life grounds and live in settlements close to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The second, ultra-Orthodox Jews, who constitute more than 25 per cent of the settler population, live in settlements largely isolated from other Israelis; ultra-Orthodox Jews seem also to be motivated by economic incentives and cheaper housing and are generally found in settlements closer to the Green Line.

A third group seems to be motivated by political and religious ideologies; they live in the central part of the West Bank, often very close to Palestinian communities."

Feb. 7, 2013 - United Nations Human Rights Council 

Settler Watch, a Swedish independent nonprofit, in the "Settlers" section of their website (accessed July 20, 2015), wrote:

"The Israeli settlers can be divided into two general categories: those who are ideologically motivated and those who are economically motivated.

The ideological settlers are convinced for religious or nationalistic reasons that the West Bank is a part of Israel and that it is their duty to inhabit the area. The ideologically motivated settlers were the pioneers of the settler movement and they mainly live far from the Israeli border.

Economic settlers are primarily motivated by the economic advantages of living in the settlements. Through the years the various Israeli governments have applied a number of economic incentives in order to encourage Israelis to become settlers. Beneficial loan agreements that turn 50% of the loans into grants, lower taxes and lower tenant fees are some of the many benefits the settlers have been able to enjoy. The local authorities in the settlements have also received additional economic support. During the 1990s the budget of the local authorities was 40% larger per capita in the settlements than in Israel proper."

July 20, 2015 - Settler Watch 

Nu'man Kanafani, PhD, Director of Research at the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) at the time of the quote, and Ziad Ghaith, Economist-Research Associate at MAS at the time of the quote, in a 2012 MAS report titled "The Economic Base of Israel's Colonial Settlements in the West Bank," available from the Academia website, wrote:

"By predominant ideology, the settlements are divided into four types: religious hardliners, secular, mixed (religious and secular) and religious-national. The religious settlements accommodate more than 50% of the total number of settlers (see Figure 5). In addition, there are many indicators that the majority of the settlers are religious Jews. The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics indicates that 31% of settlers over the age of 15 years (excluding Jerusalem) studied in yeshivas [Jewish institutions which focus on the study of traditional religious texts]. Still some sources… report that the volume of ultra-Orthodox and religious settlers is at least 70% of the total population of the settlements…

Figure 5

The population of the West Bank's settlements (excluding Jerusalem) is largely young, as more than 58% of the population are under the age of 24. The percentage of the population over 65 years stood at 3% in 2009. The median age among the settlement population is 20 years, compared to 29.3, the median age of Israel's population… the average number of family members in the settlements is 4.5, well higher than the average within the Green Line (less than 3 people). This led to a high dependency rate (111%) within the settlements (for every 100 people between the age of 20 and 64, there are 111 people under the age of 19 or over the age of 65), compared to a dependency rate of 84% in Israel… Data indicates that the proportion of settlers who were born abroad reached 16.2% in 2008… In 2009, forty percent of those immigrants who settled in the West Bank and Jerusalem (east and west) came from the United States, 14% from France and 9% from Britain."

2012 - Ziad Ghaith 
Nu'man Kanafani, PhD