If the math is right, then Jews and Arabs will number about the same in Israel and the Palestinian territories next year, according to a survey from the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics.
According to the report, Israeli Jews and Arabs — including those who are citizens of Israel — will both total to 6.58 million people at the end of 2017, a departure from a razor-thin demographic edge that Jews have held over Arabs for some time. The agency, whose estimates Israel relies on to assess the population of the West Bank, indicates that Palestinians will outnumber Jews in the years going forward, by 2020 holding an edge of 7.12 million people to 6.96 million people.
Demographics are hotly contested in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and estimates vary as to the size of the Jewish and Arab populations within Israel and the occupied territories. Some Jews have taken heart from rising birthrates in Israel, which they believe will neutralize the effect of an Arab population whose growth has historically outstripped that of Jews.
Meanwhile, those in the peace camp see demographics as spelling the necessity of a resolution to the conflict — Israel will have to give up land in order to retain its demographic majority within the area it controls. That view was reflected in Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on Israel and the Palestinians earlier this week, when he said, “If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both, and it won’t ever really be at peace.”
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.