Five largest Israeli settlements: who lives there, and why

The end goal of the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks is two separate, sovereign states. Palestinians say that the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, deemed illegal by the UN, influence the outcome of such talks. Here are the five most populous Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

4. Gush Etzion bloc

A Palestinian and foreign worker ride on a trailer hauling crates of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes during the harvest, August 31, in one of the vineyards of the Israeli Gush Etzion Settlement region in the West Bank.

First post-1948 settlement was founded in 1967

Population: 20,532 (excluding Betar Illit)

Gush Etzion is the collective name used for a group of Israeli settlements in the vicinity of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The Foundation for Middle East Peace counts 15 settlements as part of the bloc, including Betar Illit. The settlements lie on both sides of the separation barrier, but entirely on the Palestinian side of the Green Line.

Jews first attempted to settle the area now part of the Gush Etzion bloc in the 1920s. The first attempt was unsuccessful, and later attempts were destroyed in the 1948 war. Efforts began again in 1967, when Israel took over the West Bank in the Six-Day War.

See map.

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