Nearly 200 Americans Moved to West Bank Settlements Last Year, Gov’t Figures Reveal

Judy Maltz
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Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Efrayim in the West Bank, 2020.
Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Efrayim in the West Bank, 2020.Credit: AP Photo/Oded Balilty,
Judy Maltz

Americans who made aliyah to Israel were far more likely than immigrants from any other country to move to West Bank settlements last year, according to recent data from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show 191 Americans out of 2,296 who made aliyah last year moved to settlements located over the so-called Green Line. That constitutes more than 8 percent of United States citizens who immigrated to Israel in 2020, comparing with less than 3 percent of those making aliyah from France and less than 2 percent of the immigrants from Russia and Ukraine who moved to West Bank settlemnets. 

While Americans accounted for just over 10 percent of all the newcomers arriving in the country last year, their share among those choosing to settle in the West Bank was nearly a third.

The overwhelming predominance of Americans among immigrants moving to the West Bank was evident in previous years as well. It is not a surprising phenomenon considering that many are Orthodox and tend to hold right-wing views. The Jewish Agency subcontracts Nefesh b’Nefesh, a private organization, to handle the logistics of immigration from North America. 

As evident from its website, Nefesh b’Nefesh actively encourages Americans to settle in the West Bank. About a quarter of the communities spotlighted on its website are located over the Green Line, among them Efrat, Ma’aleh Adumim and Elkana. The site makes no mention, however, of the fact that these locales are not part of Israel proper.

Most of the growth of the Jewish population in the West Bank in recent years has come from high rates of childbirth rather than migration, indicating that the trend among Americans is exceptional.

The CBS figures show that Jerusalem was by far the most popular destination for American immigrants in 2020, with Beit Shemesh, which is west of the city, following by a large lag, in second place. Jerusalem was also the most popular destination for immigrants from France, though Netanya was a close second. By contrast, Jerusalem was not at all popular with newcomers from the former Soviet Union: The top destination for those coming from Russia was Tel Aviv, while for those from Ukraine, it was Haifa.

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