The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is often framed by the numbers. The conventional wisdom is that many more Palestinians are being born than Israelis. Given this “fact,” many analysts - and world leaders for that matter - presume Israel must give up land (the West Bank) because the number of Palestinian Arabs will simply overwhelm Israeli Jews.
This obviously was former President Bill Clinton’s presumption when he declared on Sunday at the Saban Forum in Jerusalem that Palestinians are having children at a faster rate. He declared the only two things that haven’t changed since 1993 are geography and demography.
Since Palestinian demography (birth rate) exceeds Jewish demography, he said the Jewish state must concede geography (Judea and Samaria or the West Bank), in order to secure demography. He concluded, “If you (Israel) want to be a democracy and a Jewish state, you have to cut a deal.”
Not so says the American-Israel Demographic Research Group. Contrary to Clinton’s assertion and conventional wisdom, they provided CBN News with numbers that present an entirely different picture.
For example, they document the following statistics:
• The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) inflated its census. For example, they say the PCBS inflated the number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria from 1.5 million to 2.5 million. Their census also includes about 400,000 overseas residents. The World Bank documents a 32 percent gap between the numbers given by the PCBS and the Palestinian Ministry of Education.
• The Arab fertility rate has “decreased below 4.5 births” in the West Bank.
• The number of Israeli Jewish births from 1995 to 2008 has increased, while the number of Arab births has stabilized.
• Arab and Jewish fertility rates are the same in Jerusalem, 3.9 births per woman, the first time that has happened since 1948.
• In Judea and Samaria there has been a net annual Arab emigration of more than 10,000 On the other hand, Israel has benefitted from its immigration, or “aliya,” since 1882. Even Israel’s demographers haven’t projected waves of immigration; yet this phenomenon has added millions of Jews from around the world to Israel’s population.
• They conclude that “There is a demographic problem, but it is not lethal. They demographic trend is Jewish. Anyone claiming that Israel must concede geography in order to secure demography is either mistaken or misleading.”