Israeli settlements, or Israeli colonies, are civilian communities inhabited by Israeli citizens, almost exclusively of Jewish ethnicity, built in violation of international law on lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israeli settlements currently exist in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the Syrian territory of the Golan Heights. East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights have been annexed by Israel, so residents are treated equivalently to the rest of Israel under Israeli law. Although the West Bank settlements are on land administered under Israeli military rule rather than civil law, Israeli civil law is "pipelined" into the settlements, such that Israeli citizens living there are treated similarly to those living in Israel.
Israeli settlements had previously been built within the Egyptian territory of the Sinai Peninsula, and within the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip; however, Israel evacuated and dismantled the 18 Sinai settlements following the 1979 Egypt–Israel peace agreement and all of the 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip, along with four in the West Bank, in 2005 as part of its unilateral disengagement from Gaza.
Israel has established Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and in the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights, both of which Israel has effectively annexed, and as such Israel does not consider the developments there to be settlements. The international community regards both territories as held under Israeli occupation and the localities established there to be illegal settlements. The International Court of Justice found the settlements to be illegal in its 2004 advisory opinion on the West Bank barrier. In the West Bank, Israel continues to expand its remaining settlements as well as settling new areas, despite pressure from the international community to desist.
The transfer by an occupying power of its civilian population into the territory it occupies is a war crime, although Israel disputes that this applies to the West Bank. On 20 December 2019, the International Criminal Court announced an International Criminal Court investigation in Palestine into alleged war crimes. The presence and ongoing expansion of existing settlements by Israel and the construction of settlement outposts is frequently criticized as an obstacle to the Israeli–Palestinian peace process by the Palestinians, and third parties such as the OIC, the United Nations, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and the European Union have echoed those criticisms. The international community considers the settlements to be illegal under international law, and the United Nations has repeatedly upheld the view that Israel's construction of settlements constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The United States for decades considered the settlements to be "illegitimate" until the Trump Administration in November 2019 shifted its position declaring "the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law."
According to Peace Now, based on figures given by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics for the end of 2018, the number of settlers is 427,800, an increase of 14,400 over the prior year. B'tselem, as of 16 January 2019, estimated that 209,270 live in occupied East Jerusalem while the Foundation for Middle East Peace cites Daniel Seidemann as of late 2019 for a figure of 218,000. Population statistics for Israeli settlements in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, show c.400,000 almost exclusively Jewish citizens of Israel; East Jerusalem settlements are inhabited by over 300,000 Israeli citizens (both Jewish citizens of Israel and Arab citizens of Israel), and over 20,000 Israeli citizens live in settlements in the Golan Heights.