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Anti-Settlement Group Says West Bank Settlement Growing

An Israeli group that opposes Jewish settlements in the West Bank says the number of Jewish settlers in the occupied area increased by five percent in 2006.

Peace Now, in its annual report, says the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank is currently almost 270,000.

The group says 2,000 Jewish settlers are living in more than 100 West Bank outposts that have not been authorized by Israel's government.

The group says 30 of the outposts are building fixed structures intended to be permanent.

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised to dismantle unauthorized outposts built after 2001.

The Israeli government says it is planning forced evictions but there are no details.

The international "road map" for peace calls on Israel to cease settlement construction.

Israel's government says it is building within existing settlement blocs to accommodate natural population growth.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said Israel plans to keep three large West Bank settlements in an eventual peace deal with the Palestinians.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.