Settlements in the Eastern Strip of the Jordan Valley

The Jordan Valley area refers to a portion of Israel adjacent to the Jordan River that runs from north to south, connecting the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. Located directly west of the Jordanian border, with the Green Line to its north and south, the eastern portion of the Jordan Valley is currently home to nearly 9,000 settlers living in 27 settlements. The settlements in this area are represented by three regional settler councils: the Jordan Valley (Arvot Hayarden Regional Council), the Central West Bank (Binyamin Regional Council), and Northern Dead Sea (Megillot Regional Council).

The settlements, with their populations at the beginning of 2005, are: Mizpe Yeriho (1469), Ma'ale Efrayim (1456), Kokhav Hashahar (1365), Rimmonim (536), Shadmot Mehola (517), Mehola (360), Tomer (296), Qalya (260), Peza'el (215), Mizpe Shalem (192), Argaman (166), Wered Yeriho (161), Gittit (161), Beqa'ot (152), Almog (142), Yitav (141), Massu'a (140), Gilgal (132), Netiv Hagedud (132), No'omi (127), Hamra (125), Hemdat (120), Mekhora (119), Ro'i (115), Yafit (101), Bet Haarava (69), Niran (53).

Also located in this area are five outposts, which have no official civilian residents: Maskiyyot, Rotem, Bitronot, Elisha, and En Hogla.

The Palestinian population of the “Eastern Strip” is approximately 53,000 people, with the main population centers in Jericho, the Jiftlik area, and the northern Jordan Valley area.

Settlements were established in this area very soon after Israel’s victory in the Six Day War. The area was originally intended to act as a buffer zone to protect Israel from an Arab attack from the east. The first settlement in the area was Qalya, founded in 1968 as a security outpost, was later tranformed into a settlement for Israeli civilians with the other outposts. In 1976, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin toured the area and said, “There settlements are here to stay for a long time. We don’t establish new villages only to pull them down later.”

There are several reports that the settlements in the area are growing, but their future is currently unclear due to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposed “convergence plan,” which could either incorporate some of these settlements into Israel proper, or transfer the area in which they are located to the Palestinian Authority.

Source: Lara Friedman & Dror Etkes, Americans for Peace Now, (September 30, 2005); Central Bureau of Statistics.