World

AP Exclusive: West Bank settler group boasts robust population growth

  • Palestinians laborers work at a construction site in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem. Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Israel's settler population in the West Bank increased by 2 percent in the first half of the year, an advocacy group announced Tuesday, signaling robust growth in the settlements even while Israel was conducting peace talks with the Palestinians. The new figures drew criticism from the Palestinians, who seek the West Bank as part of a future state. The Palestinians and most of the international community consider Israeli construction there to be illegal or illegitimate. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

    Palestinians laborers work at a construction site in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem. Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Israel's settler population in the West Bank increased by 2 percent in the first half of the year, an advocacy group announced Tuesday, signaling robust growth in the settlements even while Israel was conducting peace talks with the Palestinians. The new figures drew criticism from the Palestinians, who seek the West Bank as part of a future state. The Palestinians and most of the international community consider Israeli construction there to be illegal or illegitimate. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Palestinian laborer works at a construction site in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem. Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Israel's settler population in the West Bank increased by 2 percent in the first half of the year, an advocacy group announced Tuesday, signaling robust growth in the settlements even while Israel was conducting peace talks with the Palestinians. The new figures drew criticism from the Palestinians, who seek the West Bank as part of a future state. The Palestinians and most of the international community consider Israeli construction there to be illegal or illegitimate. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

    A Palestinian laborer works at a construction site in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem. Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Israel's settler population in the West Bank increased by 2 percent in the first half of the year, an advocacy group announced Tuesday, signaling robust growth in the settlements even while Israel was conducting peace talks with the Palestinians. The new figures drew criticism from the Palestinians, who seek the West Bank as part of a future state. The Palestinians and most of the international community consider Israeli construction there to be illegal or illegitimate. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)  (The Associated Press)

  • An Israeli Jogs past  Palestinians working at a construction site in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem. Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Israel's settler population in the West Bank increased by 2 percent in the first half of the year, an advocacy group announced Tuesday, signaling robust growth in the settlements even while Israel was conducting peace talks with the Palestinians. The new figures drew criticism from the Palestinians, who seek the West Bank as part of a future state. The Palestinians and most of the international community consider Israeli construction there to be illegal or illegitimate. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

    An Israeli Jogs past Palestinians working at a construction site in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem. Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Israel's settler population in the West Bank increased by 2 percent in the first half of the year, an advocacy group announced Tuesday, signaling robust growth in the settlements even while Israel was conducting peace talks with the Palestinians. The new figures drew criticism from the Palestinians, who seek the West Bank as part of a future state. The Palestinians and most of the international community consider Israeli construction there to be illegal or illegitimate. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)  (The Associated Press)

The main organization representing West Bank settlers says the population of Jewish Israelis living in the West Bank experienced strong growth during the first half of this year.

Dani Dayan, the chief foreign envoy of the Yesha council, says the figures are a sign that the settler population is "a thriving community that is here to stay."

The council said Tuesday that the number of Israelis living in the West Bank rose to 382,031 as of June 30, up 2 percent from 374,469 on Dec. 31. It says the growth rate is more than double that of Israel proper.

Much of the growth took place during a time when Israel was conducting peace talks with the Palestinians.

The Palestinians say the growth of settlements proves Israel isn't serious about peace.