CAMERA Letter on Mideast Demographics in Washington Times

The following letter was published on March 5 in the Washington Times:

Letters to the Editor

Israeli-Palestinian demographics

Your article “Palestinians mull a majority” (Page 1, Feb. 27) notes, “One group of Israeli researchers … charge that the Palestinian census is riddled with mistakes.” However, it fails to explain why.

Here is some of the documentation that supports the researchers’ view:

• The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics census includes roughly 400,000 overseas residents, 200,000 Israeli Arabs in Jerusalem and about 200,000 emigrants since 1997. Hence, the World Bank shows a 32 percent gap between PCBS figures and actual documentation of Palestinian births.

• Net annual emigration of more than 10,000 has characterized the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza since 1950. In 2005, 16,000; in 2006, 25,000.

• Arab fertility rates within pre-1967 Israel have declined faster than projected the past 20 years, while Jewish fertility rates have been rising. Between 1995 and 2007, Jewish annual births went up 40 percent while Arab births stabilized. Arab fertility rates in Judea and Samaria have dropped from a peak of 8 children per woman in the late 1980s to about 4.5.

• Immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union experience fertility increases from the Russian rate of one child per woman toward the average secular Israeli rate of 2-plus.

• Arab and Jewish fertility rates in Jerusalem have converged at 3.9 for the first time since 1948.

• Overall, the American-Israeli Demographic Research Group documents a 1.2 million (46 percent) inflation in the official number of Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, leaving about 2.6 million, not 3.8 million. According to these researchers, demographic momentum has been shifting from the Arab to the Jewish sector. Without Gaza, there is a 67 percent Jewish majority west of the Jordan River; with Gaza, a 60 percent Jewish majority. Inside the pre-1967 Green Line alone, Israeli census figures show roughly 76 percent of the population is Jewish, about 20 percent Arab, and 4 percent “others.”


Washington director

Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America


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