A new study by formerly Israeli state funded Macro Center for Political Economics has valued Israeli settler homes at $18.8 billion in the West Bank, according to JNet. The report was released on the back of US President Barrack Obama’s speech in which he called for an Israeli return to 1967 borders.

Israeli PM Arial Sharon compensated settlers whom, under his 2005 disengagement plan from Gaza, were withdrawn from their settlements and their housing dismantled as part of the Israeli withdrawal.

The report gives an idea as to what level of compensation may be involved given a similar disengagement from the West Bank.

The number of settlers and values of the settlement housing is a contentious issue. The pro settler movement often inflates figures to suggest an irreversible Israeli presence in the region. Numbers of settlers have ranged from 300,000 at the lowest end to 600,000 at the highest.

The presence of settlers, according to Palestinian activists, increasingly makes an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders untenable.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan are illegal under international law. The International Criminal Court and the UN have both called for the withdrawal of settlements from the West Bank and East Jerusalem.