JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Since it occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war, Israel has set up more than 130 settlements in the territory excluding annexed East Jerusalem. They now have more than 300,000 residents.
According to Interior Ministry figures, the majority of Jewish settlers live in eight large settlements which Israel wants to annex in any lasting peace agreement with the Palestinians.
The largest settlements are urban enclaves which tend to lie close to the border between Israel and the West Bank, with the notable exception of Ariel, which lies deep inside Palestinian territory.
-- Modiin Ilit: a community of ultra-Orthodox Jews, located due west of the West Bank city of Ramallah. Population 45,000.
-- Beitar Ilit: an ultra-Orthodox settlement due west of the southern city of Bethlehem. Population 36,400.
-- Maale Adumim: a dormitory town located east of Jerusalem, populated by people who live and work in the city. It was the first West Bank settlement to be granted city status. Population 35,000.
-- Ariel: located in the northern West Bank, about a 30-minute drive from Tel Aviv; also has city status. Population 18,000.
-- Givat Zeev: located just south of Ramallah, and close to Jerusalem's northern edge. Population 11,500.
-- Efrata: lies to the south of Bethlehem. Population 8,200.
-- Kiryat Arba: located on the eastern edge of the flashpoint city of Hebron in the southern West Bank. Population 7,500.
-- Alfei Menashe: southwest of Nablus in the northern West Bank. Population 7,500.
-- Karnei Shomron: southwest of Nablus. Population 6,800.
There are also around 10 more settlements with some 3,000 inhabitants each.
Construction in the settlements has continued virtually uninterrupted since 1967, under dovish Labor governments as well as during periods of right-wing rule.
In 1977, there were 31 settlements with a combined population of 4,400; by 1992 the number had risen to 120 settlements with 100,000 inhabitants. By the end of 2009, the settler population of the West Bank had reached 306,000.
There are another nine settlements, or settlement neighborhoods, in annexed East Jerusalem, which are home to around 190,000 people.