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June 17, 2009

Israeli Settlements in the West Bank

Relations between the Israeli government and the Obama administration have become tense lately over the issue of growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Nearly 300,000 Israelis now live in such settlements, alongside some 2.5 million Palestinians. The tense disputes over the settlements touch on religious and historical claims, local and international laws, and, of course political disagreements. The settlements range in size and permanence from "wildcat" outposts made of plywood shacks to established cities of tens of thousands. The international community views over 100 of the settlements as illegal under international law. Despite calls from the U.S. for a complete freeze on expansion, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that, though Israel would not build any new settlements and would dismantle unauthorized outposts, it would still allow building within existing settlements to accommodate "natural growth." Collected here are some scenes from West Bank settlements over the past few months. (37 photos total)

A Palestinian worker walks through a construction site of a new housing project in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim, near Jerusalem, Sunday, June 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The Jewish settlement of Har Homa at sunset in east Jerusalem on June 3, 2009. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images) #

Jewish settlers build a makeshift synagogue in the unauthorised outpost of Maoz Esther, near the Jewish settlement of Kokhav Hashahar, northeast of the West Bank city of Ramallah June 4, 2009, after Israeli authorities demolished similar structures at the outpost on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner) #

A Jewish settler rebuilds his outpost after Israeli policemen demolished it on June 3, 2009 in Ramat Migron, east of Ramallah. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

A Jewish settler stands on the unauthorized outpost of Havat Gilad south of the West Bank city of Nablus June 2, 2009. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner) #

Israeli border police officers walk together after the demolition of the Maoz Esther outpost (part of which is seen in background) near the Jewish settlement of Kokhav Hashahar, northeast of the West Bank city of Ramallah May 21, 2009. Israeli police broke up the unauthorized settler outpost in the occupied West Bank, bulldozing seven makeshift cabins that day, police said. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner) #

A Jewish settler shouts at border police officers after the demolition of the Maoz Esther outpost near the Jewish settlement of Kokhav Hashahar, northeast of Ramallah, May 21, 2009. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner) #

An Israeli police officer stands guard as a bulldozer demolishes a makeshift structure in the unauthorised outpost of Ramat Migron, near the West Bank city of Ramallah June 3, 2009. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner) #

A Jewish settler looks at prayer books removed from destroyed structures demolished by Israeli troops in the illegal West Bank outpost of Maoz Esther, a hilltop site northeast of Ramallah, Wednesday, June 3, 2009. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner) #

Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers stand next to a watchtower at the Ramat Gilad outpost, as settlers prepare for a possible evacuation by Israeli police early morning, on June 01, 2009 at the settlement outpost near the West Bank city of Nablus. An attack by Jewish settlers had left several Palestinian workers injured with one needing hospital treatment for a fractured skull after dozens of masked settlers threw rocks at their vehicles. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

Dust kicks up in a stone quarry owned by an Israeli company near the West Bank settlement of Anatot, near Jerusalem on Wednesday, May 20, 2009. Israel has ordered a freeze on the expansion of Israeli-run stone and gravel quarries in the West Bank and says it will examine the legality of the industry, the Justice Ministry said on May 20th. The government's decision was made in response to a petition file by the Yesh Din human rights group on behalf of West Bank Palestinians who say their land is being illegally exploited. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner) #

A Jewish settler walks outside a cave transfered into a wildcat outpost near the settlement of Kedumim on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Nablus on May 26, 2009. A group of settlers believe that they will not be evacuated from the cave since it is not a built outpost but an already existing one. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images) #

Masked Jewish settlers from the Yitzhar settlement prepare to hurl stones towards Palestinian stonethrowers on the outskirts of Hawara village, just south of Nablus, in the northern West Bank on June 1, 2009. Jewish settlers rampaged in the West Bank, wounding four Palestinians, as they vented fury that Israel may answer US calls and dismantle outposts in the territory, officials said. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Palestinian man tries to put out a fire in Palestinian fields that were set by Jewish settlers outside the village of Hawara and the Yitzhar settlement in the north of the occupied West Bank June 1, 2009. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Israeli border police detain Jewish settlers from Yitzhar near the northern West Bank city of Nablus Monday, June 1, 2009. Mobs of Jewish settlers went on a rampage across the northern West Bank on Monday, attacking Palestinian laborers and setting fires to protest an Israeli crackdown against settlement outposts. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh) #

An Israeli soldier observes as a bulldozer destroys a water canal built by a Palestinian man on his land near the Jewish settlement of Qiryat Arba'a in Hebron in the occupied West Bank on June 8, 2009. Israeli forces arrested the landlord and demolished the canal, which was allegedly built illegally near the Jewish settlement. (HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Israeli policeman closes the door of a vehicle after arresting a Palestinian man for building a water canal on his land near the Israeli settlement of Qiryat Arba'a in Hebron in the occupied West Bank on June 8, 2009. Israeli forces also demolished the canal, which was allegedly built illegally near the Jewish settlement. (HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images) #

Children of Israeli setllers play in a bouncy castle next to the ruins of the illegal outpost of Maoz Ester, near Kokhav Ha Shahar settlement, east of Ramallah on June 4, 2009. The wildcat outpost has been dismantled by Israeli authorities several times over the past few months, only to be re-erected within hours by zealous settlers. (YEHUDA RAIZNER/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Jewish settler rebuilds the Shvut Ami outpost May 31, 2009 near the West Bank city of Nablus. The unauthorized settler outpost in the occupied West Bank was demolished by Israeli forces earlier this week. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

Jewish settlers rebuild a structure in the West Bank outpost of Maoz Esther, a hilltop site northeast of Ramallah, Thursday, June 4, 2009. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty) #

A Jewish settler looks over a demolished structure, which had been dismantled by Israeli soldiers and rebuilt by Jewish settlers several times in recent weeks, in the West Bank outpost of Maoz Esther near Ramallah, Sunday, June 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner) #

A Jewish settler embraces a Torah scroll during a dedication ceremony in Maoz Ester after Israeli policemen demolished the outpost for the second time yesterday on June 4, 2009 in Maoz Ester near Ramallah, West Bank. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

Settlers hold a conversation in Maoz Ester after Israeli policemen demolished the outpost on the second time yesterday on June 4, 2009 in Maoz Ester near Ramallah, West Bank. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

Palestinian Said Eid stands next to his house, not seen, as construction continues on a new housing development in the Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa in east Jerusalem, background, Wednesday, June 3, 2009. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner) #

Standing next to a billowing Israeli flag, a construction worker relaxes in the evening breeze after a day's labor on a new housing project in the Jewish settlement of Alfe Menashe on June 8, 2009 in the West Bank. (David Silverman/Getty Images) #

Palestinian labourers walk past a billboard advertising a new housing project in the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank as they head home on June 7, 2009. The sign reads, in part: "Highland. Apartments with a view in Maale Adumim - Watching the view from the front row." (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Israelis react near the gate of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Bat Ayin on Thursday, April 2, 2009, to the news of an axe-wielding Palestinian militant who went on a rampage Thursday in Bat Ayin, killing an Israeli 13-year-old and wounding a 7-year-old boy before fleeing the area. (AP Photo / Sebastian Scheiner) #

A Jewish settler and Israeli soldier patrol together in the West Bank settlement of Horsha near Ramallah June 14, 2009. (REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen) #

Settlers study together inside a Yeshiva (religious school) in the Havat Gilad illegal outpost, west of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, on May 27, 2009. (JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Palestinian shepherd sits with his sheep in front of a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim on June 14, 2009. (REUTERS/Ammar Awad) #

A Jewish settler argues with a Palestinian demonstrator during a protest against an illegal outpost near the Israeli settlement of Kharsina in the West Bank city of Hebron on May 22, 2009. (HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images) #

Israeli soldiers scuffle with Palestinian and foreign peace activists after they erected a tent next to settlers who constructed an illegal outpost on a land owned by Haddar Palestinian family, near the village of Yatta, southern the West Bank city of Hebron, on June 6, 2009. (HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images) #

Jewish settlers look on as Israeli police remove a vehicle and implement an order to tear down a wildcat outpost near the Migron settlement in the occupied West Bank on May 3, 2009. (MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images) #

A settler's baby sits in the ruins of a playground at the outpost of Maoz Ester after Israeli policemen demolished it for the 2nd time on June 3, 2009 in Maoz Ester, east of Ramallah. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

Jewish settlers build a structure at the West Bank outpost of Maoz Esther, near Ramallah, Wednesday, June 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner) #

Palestinian construction workers at a construction site in Maale Adumim, a West Bank settlement on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem, Monday, May 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty) #

The view, as seen from the window of a shack on a hilltop near the illegal Jewish outpost settlement of Migron on May 27, 2009 northeast of Ramallah, West Bank. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images) #

 
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