Statisticians, politicians and security experts are at a loss. Demographics play a major role in the politics of the Holy Land. Five million Palestinians live in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, according to Col. Haim Mendes, deputy commander of Israel’s Civil Administration, who utilized figures provided by the Palestinian Authority in a report to the Knesset in late March. Together with the 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel, that’s a total of 6.5 million. The Jewish population of Israel also numbers 6.5 million. If the Palestinian figures are correct, the Jews have lost their majority within the biblical borders of Israel. And yet, there are more Jews living in the Land of Israel today than at the time of the First and Second Temples.
The Israeli figures are reliable. What many doubt is the information provided by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics (PBS). Israel’s right-wing politicians, in particular, insist the Palestinian figures are exaggerated. “We estimate that 2.5 to 2.7 million Palestinians live in Judea and Samaria,” Mendes told the Knesset. That was slightly lower than the number given by...
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