Some 6.1 million Palestinian Arabs live between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, 100,000 less than the number of Jews who live in the same area. That according to figures published this week by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics in honor of “Nakba Day” - the commemoration of the “disaster” of Israel’s rebirth on May 14, 1948.
For years various Israeli experts, like Prof. Arnon Sofer, have warned that the Palestinian population is growing more rapidly than the Jewish, while others say this demographic threat is a myth facilitated by the ludicrous reliance on statistics provided by the Palestinian Authority.
Whatever the case, the demographic issue is taken seriously, and is therefore having an impact on the way Israel conducts the peace process, and the Palestinian leadership knows it.
According to the figures published by Ramallah, there are some 12.1 million Palestinians worldwide, 2.8 million of whom live in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) with another 1.8 million residing in Gaza. By comparison, the global Jewish population is 14.3 million with 6.2 million of them living in Israel.
If these numbers are accurate (and there is reason to take them with a grain of salt), Palestinian women indeed are giving birth to more children than their Jewish counterparts.
The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics optimistically estimates that the number of Palestinian Arabs in the region will grow by a full one million by 2020, thereby easily outnumbering Jews west of the Jordan River. A similar report published three years ago reported one million less Palestinians than today. In other words, according to the Palestinian leadership, the Palestinian population west of the Jordan River grows by at least one million people every three-to-five years.
For years, both sides have considered natural growth by the other to be a demographic threat. For this reason, the Palestinians are opposed to Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel, which at times has drastically increased Jewish population.
Should they succeed in establishing an independent state, many Palestinian politicians have expressed a desire to emulate the Jewish model and bring as many “Palestinians” from abroad inside their borders. And while many of these Arabs living abroad have no interest in joining a Palestinian state, if even one million answered the call, it would be enough to significantly impact the situation.
Years ago Gaza-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniya stated that his people are engaged in a demographic war with the Jews, and expressed confidence that on this front “we will defeat the Zionists.”