The Palestinian Israeli Demographic Conflict: Israel 2020 and Israeli Policies to Maintain the Domination of the Jewish Group over the non-Jewish Groups

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The Palestinian Israeli Demographic Conflict:  Israel 2020 and Israeli Policies to Maintain the Domination of the Jewish Group over the non-Jewish Groups

The Palestinian Israeli Demographic Conflict:  Israel 2020 and Israeli Policies to Maintain the Domination of the Jewish Group over the non-Jewish Groups


By Kamal M M Al-Astal

Associate Professor (Political Science)

Department of Political Sciences- Al-Azhar University of Gaza-Palestine

Ex-Head of Department of Political Sciences-Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences-Al-Azhar University of Gaza

Address: PoBox (7039)-Khan Younis-Gaza Strip-Palestine

Telfax: 00970 8 2054966, Tel: 00970 8 2051966, mobile: 00970 59 843850

Email:, (or)


Today, Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise close to 20% of the total population of the country, numbering over 1,000,000. They live predominantly in villages, towns, and mixed Arab-Jewish cities in the Galilee region in the north, the Triangle area in central Israel, and the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south. A part of the Palestinian people who currently live in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Diaspora, they belong to three religious communities: Muslim (81%), Christian (10%), and Druze (9%). Under international instruments to which Israel is a state party, they constitute a national, ethnic, linguistic, and religious minority.

In 1947, the Palestinians comprised some 67% of the population of Palestine. On 14 May 1948, the State of Israel was established. During the Arab-Israeli war that immediately followed, approximately 780,000 of the pre-1948 Palestinian population fled or were expelled, forced to become refugees in the neighboring Arab states and in the West. Of the 150,000 Palestinians who remained in the new state, approximately 25% were displaced from their homes and villages and became internally displaced persons as the Israeli army destroyed over 400 Arab villages. As a result of the war, the Palestinian population in Israel found itself disoriented and severely weakened. They had been effectively transformed from members of a majority population to a minority in an exclusively Jewish state. They lacked political as well as economic power, as their leadership, as well as their professional and middle classes, were refused the right to return and compelled to live outside of the state.[1]

Importance of the Study

In spite of the voluminous literature on Palestine question, to my knowledge there have been few specific studies (if any) made in this subject. This is one of two reasons which made me think of undertaking this research paper focusing on the demographic conflict in Palestine. Particularly, the Israeli measures to confront the Palestinian high birthrate. The other reason is that the question of demographic dispute between Israel and the Palestinian people has been a hot issue on the daily political life agenda. This latter reason then, made research in this subject, from the researcher’s point of view ever more important in need of clarification.

Objectives of the Study

The aims of this paper are:

v     To discuss various aspects of the Israeli policies towards the Palestinian-Israeli demographic balance.

v     To review various Israeli point of views about the demographic conflict in Palestine.

v     To show a situation in which several factors have been used to face the Palestinian demographic bomb.

Statement of the Problem of the Study

In a NEWSWEEK Poll published in the year 2002, a mere 34 percent of adults surveyed thought Israel would remain a Jewish state 50 years from now. Some 23 percent thought Israel would become a mixed state, where Palestinians have a major share of power, and 18 percent thought it would no longer exist.[2] For many Israelis, the Arab community represents a demographic time bomb. Amounting to 20 percent of the population today, Arabs in Israeli have a much higher birthrate  than Jews. Analysts who chart the growth of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip predict that Arabs will outnumber Jews in the area west of the Jordan River by 2010.[3]

The question that has been raised by Israelis what does the Jewish state become when Jews are the minority? Israeli doves advocate parting with the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the only way to preserve both the Jewish identity and the democratic values of the state. “Only this way we can ensure a Jewish majority in Israel.” Says Yossi Beilin. Hard-liners. On the other hand, profess not to worry about the demographic challenge. “As far as the Arabs are concerned, if you do not give them the right to vote, you don’t have a demographic problem.” Says retired general Effi Eitam, who’s emerging as a rising star in the right-wing firmament. He has no problem denying even a Palestinian majority its civil rights. He sys they could accept municipal autonomy or, if that’s not enough, create their own state in neighboring Jordan and Egyptian Sinai.[4]

The paper focused on examining the demographic conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis. The main question is How will Israel survive?


This paper will examine two hypotheses:

v     The first, Israel uses the Palestine demographic threat as a pretext to justify its racial and discriminatory policies against the Palestinians inside Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

v     The second, Israel has been intended to be a “Jewish state” not a “democratic state”.

The Scope of the Study

The analysis deals with the issue of Israeli vision to the high birthrate among the Palestinians and how to confront this phenomenon. The discussion concentrates on the Israeli policies towards the Palestinians in a bid to overcome the Palestinian so-called demographic bomb.


The researcher will follow the descriptive analytical approach and the text analysis review and analysis. The historical analysis approach will be used throughout this paper.

Resources and Literature review focusing on Israel’s Demography Dilemma of 21stCentury

The research is based on primary sources, documents, articles, analyses, and internet. The researcher reviews a number of Israeli viewpoints.

The Strategic Planning Unit of the Department of Settlement and Development of the Jewish Agency is engaged in the development of a planning project called “Master Plan for Israel in the years 2000 – Israel 2020”. Scenarios concerning various processes that may affect the future environment of Israel are being studied and taken as part of the planning input. One of these central issues is current processes affecting the Diaspora and its future relations with Israel. Scientists, demographers, political and social scientists,  economists, historians and philosophers, regional planners and futurists, Jewish community and organizational leaders and professionals from the Israel and the Diaspora are trying to clarify Israel/Diaspora issues and give a significant contribution to the planning process.[5]

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem through the Avraham Harman Institute of Cotemporary Jewry, Division of Jewish Demography and Statistics launched a number of researches. These researches include “Evaluation of recent World Jewish populations trends”, the 2000 United States National Jewish population”, “World Jewish population projections”, the population of Jerusalem, 1995-2020″, “populations projections in Israel and Palestine, 2000-2050”, “Jewish Historical demography”, “Demography of the immigrant population in Israel which originated from the former Soviet Union”, ….[6]

On 28 June 2002, writer, Lily Galili, published an article on the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Galili mentioned that in March 2002, Professor Arnon Soffer a geographer form the University of Haifa sent an urgent letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The subject was the need for separation from the Palestinians. Soffer argues that in the absence of separation, the meaning of such a majority of Arabs-is the end of the Jewish state of Israel.[7]

These are not the only places where they are discussing demography, Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. The discussions and researches, in this respect, are in progress at other universities, at the National Security Council and even in home discussion circles throughout Israel. Reports indicate that men tend to go more for the security argument; women are more sensitive to demography. The US State Department and the CIA are also taking an interest.[8]

            At the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya (Israel), a team of academic and senior security people has met several times to discuss the issue of demography in the State of Israel. [9]

On March 19, 2002, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, held a Special Policy Forum on ‘The Impact of Demography on Middle East Politics”. One of the presentations was by Arnon Soffer, a professor of geography at Haifa University and the author of the recent and much noted study, “Israeli Demography 2000-2020: Danger and opportunities”.[10]

The Israel Demographic Forum has involved in the research of the demographic Israeli dilemma. The Forum mentions that in 2000, the State of Israel has a million Arab citizens-roughly 16% of the country’s population. The Arabs of Israel are expected by 2020 to compromise 21% of Israel population. In fact, demographers estimate that by 2020 a third of Israeli citizens will be non-Jews [i.e. east European, non-Jews, Druze, and foreign laborers in addition to Arabs]. The Jerusalem Post of august 6, 2001 reported: “Population projections to the Knesset recently show that Arabs will outnumber Jews within the Green Line by 2035 and that there are already as many Arabs as Jews when the West Bank and Gaza Strip are included”. The Jewish majority of Israel dwindles away with the passage of time.[11]

Israel National Planning Commission has contributed to the ongoing discussion on the Israeli-Arab demographic dispute.[12]

In words, there are hectic discussions and research of the Arab-Israeli demographic conflict and ways of finding a solution that save Israel’s Jewish character.[13]

The Israeli Argument: the Demographic Realty in the Arab-Israeli Dispute

In his article titled “Population Dispersal-the Next Zionist Challenge?”, and published by the Israeli Ariel Center for Policy Research,  “Arnon Soffer” argues that  since the establishment of Israel, its governments have been exerting population dispersal policy. By doing this, they have been exerting influence on the infrastructure and distribution of the population of the country. However, since the beginning of the 1990s. Israel has been undergoing actual challenges in its national planning.[14]

The National Master Plan No. 31 and Israel 2020,[15] Arnon Soffer argues, pay lip service to the population dispersal policy. Moreover, Arnon argues that the National Plan (Israel 2020) is based on three main, false, assumptions: the first is that Israel in 1967 lines will live in an environment of peace. The second, the Israeli population will not live in a desert area. And the third, that the Israeli Western Society, will live in a western-like environment.[16]

In another article titled: “Arab births present Israel with a growing problem” Soffer argues that in the next 20 years, the population of Israel (including all of Jerusalem) is predicted to rise from 7.1 million to 9.7 million. The Jewish population will increase from 5.0 million, or 70 percent of the total, to 6.3 million, or 65 percent of the total-and that is on optimistic assumptions about continued immigration. The non-Jewish population will increase much more rapidly, from 2.1 million to 3.4 million. Most of this is due to the more rapid growth of the Israeli Arab population, although there will also be a substantial increase in the foreign (non-Jewish, and, non-Arab) population.[17]

According to Soffer, the increase in the Arab population is due to two principle factors: first, a high birth rate 3.7 percent for Israeli Muslims and even higher for Palestinians, and, secondly, the illegal influx of Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Jordan. When considering the Israeli opposition to right-of-return proposals for refugees, one must realize that 153,000 Palestinians have already moved into Israel, illegally: 70,000 into Jerusalem, 70,000 into the Little Triangle area and 13,000 into the southern Bedouin communities. A striking example of these two trends-high birth rates and illegal immigration-coming together can be seen in the influx of Gazan women who enter polygamous marriages with Israeli Bedouin and then have ten to twelve children, Soffer maintains.[18]

In addition to the increase in the Israeli Arab population, the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza will increase from 3.o million to 5.8 million over the next 20 years. Adding together the population of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, the population of mandatory Palestine-the historic “Land of Israel”-will go from 10.1 million, of which Jews are just under 50 percent, to 15.5 million, of which Jews will be little more than 40 percent.[19]

What are the results of the above mentioned assumptions?

Professor Arnon Soffer concludes his article by mentioning a number of challenges that will confront Israel in the next 20 years. These challenges and dangers are as follows:[20]

v     The increase in the Israeli Arab population poses a demographic challenge;

v     The Palestinian territories will face scarce water resources and poor economic conditions that, in turn, will bread frustration and instigate further violence and terror;

v     The structure of Israeli society and the Knesset will be transformed. The non-Zionists will be the majority of the Israeli population by 2020, a fact which could undermine Israeli democracy and the rule of law;

v     Other geopolitical implications include the danger of the loss of Israel control over districts in which there will be a large Arab majority, such as Galilee, the Little Triangle, and northern Negev;

v     Furthermore, the shortage of water, coupled with intensified population density on limited land, could lead to a collapse of transportation and other infrastructure ;

v     All in all, the deterioration could result in the emigration of Zionist Jews and convert Israel in a Third World state.[21]

This gloomy vision of the future underlines the need to prepare plans to preserve the modern and Jewish character of the state, Soffer concludes.[22]

There is a call to reconsider Israeli/Diaspora Relations in the Strategic Planning of Israel for the Years 2000. Among the topics that were raised: (1) Mutual expectations and mutual roles that Israel and the Diaspora play vis-à-vis each other. (2) Changes in the Diaspora and in Israel that may affect their relationships. (3) Possible scenarios that may evolve as a result of present patterns of change. (4) How could Israel support the Diaspora in its long range planning….[23]

Professor Soffer suggestions to confront the Israeli demographic crisis in 2020

Professor Soffer suggests a number of measures that should be undertaken by Israeli governments to confront the demographic dangers of the high Palestinian birth rate. These measures are as follows:[24]

v     Israel should initiate a policy of separation;

v     The Palestinian state would include Palestinian parts of Jerusalem and Arab enclaves on the Israeli side of the 1967 boundaries (these enclaves contain a total Arab population today of more than half-a-million-a population that will increase dramatically by 2020;

v     The Israeli state would include the Jewish-majority areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which would require Israel to annex 50 Palestinian villages where about 60,000 Palestinian reside; Israeli would withdraw from 50 Jewish settlements, where nearly 40,000 Jews live;

v     Israeli should control the borders so that the Palestinians will not share borders with any other Arab state;

v     The separation between Israel and the Palestinian state should be total, meaning that they should not engage in any form of economic cooperation.

In other words, Israel must do more than withdraw from nearly all of the West Bank and Gaza; it must also hand over to the Palestinians some of the majority-Arab parts of pre-1967 Israel.[25]

Israeli Policies and Measures towards Palestinian Demographic Bomb and Palestinian Minority inside Israel: “Jewish State” vis-à-vis “Democratic State”

Israel’s Declaration of Independence (1948) states two principles important for understanding the legal status of Palestinian citizens of Israel. First, the Declaration refers specifically to Israel as a “Jewish state” committed to the “ingathering of the exiles.” While such references to the Jewish nature of the state permeate the Declaration, it contains only one reference to the maintenance of complete equality of political and social rights for all its citizens, irrespective of race, religion, or sex. There is a tension between these two principles, in that the first emphasizes the Zionist character of the state, which privileges one group, the Jewish people, and the second mentions the universal status of each citizen in a democracy.[26]

Adalah’s report to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, issued August/September 2001 and entitled Institutionalized Discrimination Against Palestinian Citizens of Israel, identifies more than 20 laws that discriminate against the Palestinian minority in Israel. The report shows that the Jewish character of the state is evident in numerous Israeli laws. The most important immigration laws, The Law of Return (1950) and The Citizenship Law (1952), allow Jews to freely immigrate to Israel and gain citizenship, but exclude Arabs who were forced to flee their homes in 1948 and 1967. Israeli law also confers special quasi-governmental standing on the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund and other Zionist bodies, which by their own charters cater only to Jews. Various other laws such as The Chief Rabbinate of Israel Law (1980), The Flag and Emblem Law (1949), and The State Education Law (1953) and its 2000 amendment give recognition to Jewish educational, religious, and cultural practices and institutions, and define their aims and objectives strictly in Jewish terms.[27]

The Israeli authorities also confiscated massive amounts of Palestinian-owned lands. As the majority of the Palestinian community traditionally relied on agriculture as their main source of income, state expropriation of lands forced Palestinians to seek work as wage-labors and thus become primarily dependent on the Israeli economy. Prior to 1948, the Jewish community owned just 6-7% of the land. During the next four decades, 80% of lands owned by Palestinians living in Israel were confiscated and placed at the exclusive disposal of Jewish citizens. Today, 93% of all land in Israel is under direct state control.[28]

Military rule on the Arabs inside Israel was lifted in 1966. One year later, following the war in 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. As a result Palestinians in Israel regained contacts with Palestinians in these areas. From this time and on Palestinian citizens of Israel confined their struggle to a civic one and restricted their national effort to events in the Occupied Territories. Land confiscations pushed the Palestinians inside Israel to call for a general strike in 1976 (Land Day), following a wave of land expropriations in the Galilee area. These expropriations were part of the governmental plan to expand the existing Jewish settlements and to establish new ones in order to reach a “demographic balance” in areas where Palestinians constituted a majority. Protests erupted in the Galilee, during which Israeli security forces killed six Palestinian citizens and wounded hundreds more. Every year on 30 March, Land Day, Palestinians in Israel commemorate their collective struggle against land confiscation and dispossession.[29]

Israel never sought to assimilate or integrate the Palestinian population, treating them as second-class citizens and excluding them from public life and the public sphere. The state practiced systematic and institutionalized discrimination in all areas, such as land dispossession and allocation, education, language, economics, culture, and political participation. Successive Israeli governments maintained tight control over the community, attempting to suppress Palestinian/Arab identity and to divide the community within itself. To that end, Palestinians are not defined by the state as a national minority despite UN Resolution 181 calling for such; rather they are referred to as “Israeli Arabs,” “non-Jews,” or by religious affiliation. Further attempts have been made to split the Palestinian community into “minorities within a minority” through separate educational curricula, disparate employment and academic opportunities, and the selective conscription of Druze and some Bedouin men to military service. Israeli discourse has legitimated the second-class status of Palestinian citizens on the basis that the minority population does not serve in the military; however, the selective conscription of Druze and some Bedouin has not prevented discrimination against them.[30]

These political shifts have been exacerbated by the problems that the Palestinian minority has faced post-Oslo. Indeed the Oslo Accords have redefined and limited the “Palestinian question” to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, excluding Palestinian citizens of Israel.[31]

Most importantly, the Israeli government has maintained an aggressive policy of land expropriation, adversely affecting Palestinian land and housing rights. For example, the National Planning and Building Law (1965) retroactively re-zoned the lands on which many Arab villages sit as “non-residential.” The consequence of this is that despite the existence of these villages prior to the establishment of the state, they have been afforded no official status. These “unrecognized Arab villages” receive no government services, and residents are denied the ability to build homes and other public buildings. The authorities use a combination of house demolitions, land confiscation, denial of basic services, and restrictions on infrastructure development to dislodge residents from these villages. The situation is severely acute for the Arab Bedouin community living in these unrecognized villages in the Naqab. [32]

In 1992, the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) passed two important Basic Laws – The Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and The Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation – which, for the first time, contain “constitution-like” protections for some civil liberties and human rights. The Basic Laws, considered a mini-bill of rights by Israeli legal scholars, do not explicitly protect the right to equality. On the contrary, this Basic Law emphasizes the Jewish character of the state, and undermines the rights of “non-Jewish” citizens. However, even with the passage of these Basic Laws, Israel still has no law that “constitutionally” guarantees the right of equality for all. Although several ordinary statutes protect the equal rights of women and people with disabilities, no Basic Law or general statute guarantees the right to equality for the Palestinian minority.[33]

According to international instruments, the Palestinian community in Israel constitutes a national (Palestinian), as well as an ethnic (Arab), linguistic (Arabic), and religious (Muslim, Christian, Druze) minority, and as such is to be afforded minority rights protections. While Israel’s international human rights obligations are not currently binding on Israeli domestic courts, these principles provide persuasive authority for mounting minority group rights claims. Recent developments in Israeli domestic law and international human rights law provide support for claims of group discrimination and the state’s obligation to afford positive rights to the Palestinian minority in Israel.[34]

Today around three-quarters of the Palestinian people (around eight million Palestinians) have either been expelled from or displaced inside their homeland: one million Palestinians live inside Israel of whom approximately one-quarter are internally displaced and three million Palestinians, of whom approximately half are refugees, live in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – illegally occupied by Israel since 1967.[35]

The aim of Israel’s systematic form of extreme racial discrimination can be summed up as: ‘More land – Less Palestinians’. Maintaining the Domination of the Jewish Groups over the non-Jewish Groups through a number of policies such as:[36]

* To be Exclusive/Exclusionary: To ensure and maintain the domination of the Jewish group over other non-Jewish groups within Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, by establishing and maintaining an exclusive ‘Jewish’ character of the State of Israel. The Jewish character of the state of Israel is characterized by a dominant Jewish majority, Jewish control of the land, and the exclusion and subjugation of the indigenous non-Jewish population, namely the Palestinian people including through patterns of ethnic cleansing in the first few years inside Israel; and ongoing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.[37]

* To be Expansionist: To expand the exclusive and exclusionary ‘Jewish’ State, including by expansion through colonialism/occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.[38]

Key Features of the on going Israeli Policies to confront the Palestinian Demographic Bomb[39]

In addition to what have been above mentioned, the Israeli methods used to ensure this exclusivity and expansionism – i.e., more land and less Palestinians – have included displacement, dispossession, demographic engineering, colonization, separation, and/or clearing out (with ethnic cleansing) the indigenous Palestinian population, obliteration of their own separate sense of national identity and denial of their rights of self determination. Specifically, these methods include the following:[40]

 (1) Displacement

Deportation of Palestinians from their land. In 1948, some 531 villages were destroyed and depopulated and 750,000 Palestinians were expelled. This policy of land expropriation and land destruction, agricultural property destruction and home demolitions has continued to date both inside Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Inside Israel, the State of Israel has maintained a policy of continually establishing new settlements for Jews only that also serve to isolate and cut off Palestinian communities. In addition, there have been massive restrictions on Palestinian construction and minimal investment in Palestinian infrastructure.[41]

 (2) Dispossession/’Clearing out’/Ethnic cleansing patterns

Dispossession and Loss to Palestinians of their land, homes and sense of separate identity. Displacement and ‘clearing out’ of Palestinian communities. Land expropriations/destruction, destruction of crops and agricultural land, and home demolitions have continued since 1948 to date inside Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Methods have been designed to obliterate the separate Palestinian identity and replace it with that of another group – a Jewish Israeli identity. These methods have also involved the displacement/forced exile and attempts to ‘clear out’ Palestinians, or remove them from their homeland.[42]

 (3) Land expropriation

Prior to 1948, the Jewish community in Palestine owned only 6-7% of the land, whereas today, 93% of all land in Israel is under direct state control by means of expropriation laws that were passed after the establishment of the state for the specific purpose of expropriation, or facilitating expropriation of land from Palestinians. The state land was, and is being, transferred to the Jewish National Fund and to other quasi-governmental agencies which, by the terms of their constitutions, can be used only by Jewish Israelis. The process of land expropriation has continued within Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.[43]

(4) The Israeli Demographic Oriented Policies in East Jerusalem

Since the illegal annexation by Israel in 1967, all Israeli successive governments have made great efforts to reduce significantly the number of Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem, to assure Israeli sovereignty, a Jewish majority. Those efforts include restrictions on Palestinian construction in the Eastern part of the city, restrictive planning and zoning restrictions (as part of a building restriction), a rigid policy on family unification, and minimal investment in infrastructure. Furthermore, a ‘centre of life’ policy has aimed at depriving Palestinians of residency rights. Palestinians are issued annual permits. If a person has been out of Jerusalem overseas for more than 7 years for whatever reason (including their forcible deportation) or moves from Jerusalem to another part of the West Bank for any reason they lose their residency rights and social benefits (and accordingly lose their right to live in Jerusalem forever). In addition the municipality tax system has led to the dispossession and loss of Palestinian houses and businesses for those who cannot pay, with Palestinians receiving only a small percentage of their tax money back in services. Unlike the rest of the Occupied Territories, Israeli laws apply to East Jerusalem.[44]

 (5) The Israeli Policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Since 1967, Israel has been responsible for establishing, financing and protecting illegal Jewish colonies (settlements) in the West Bank and Gaza. Initially the program of creeping illegal annexation was pursued by means of requisitioning and Israel justified occupation of Palestinian land on security grounds. Settlements have expanded considerably since the start of the Oslo peace process, and have continued to expand since the start of the Second Intifada. Israel has built in the Occupied Territories a vast road system, which by-passes Palestinian population centers and enables colonial ‘settlers’ and military forces protecting them to move freely and speedily, as opposed to Palestinians, through the West Bank. To achieve this, 160,000 dunums of land were requisitioned, much of it under cultivation by Palestinian farmers. Moreover, Palestinian homes continue to be demolished without compensation for the purpose of constructing this network of bypass roads. These roads prevent the expansion of Palestinian villages and undermine the economic development of Palestinians by restricting Palestinian movement and impeding the flow of commerce and workers from one Palestinian area to another.[45]

(6) Demographic Engineering

Citizenship: National identity is the main factor in deciding the acquisition of citizenship in Israel. All Jews seeking citizenship may do so under the 1950 Law of Return, even if they were not born in Israel or have any immediate family there. This also applies to their children and grandchildren, as well as spouses thereof, even if the children, grandchildren and spouses are not Jewish themselves. Whilst indigenous Palestinian non-Jews are not automatically granted citizenship, and must apply for this under the Citizenship Law, and if outside Israel may not be granted rights of return. Accordingly, any Jew acquires immediate citizenship through immigration as opposed to non-Jewish indigenous Palestinians.[46]

 (7) Colonization

* Colonial structures/system/extra territoriality. The expansionism aims of the exclusivist and exclusionary ‘Jewish’ State has been reflected in the belligerent illegal occupation/colonizing of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). With the transfer of 400,000 Israeli civilians into the OPTs (including East Jerusalem) over the last 35 years and the establishment of a permanent Israeli infrastructure (including settlements and permanent by-pass roads, water and electricity networks) the occupation is a permanent form of Colonialism. Since 1967, the Israeli Occupation / Colonialism, in all its manifestations, have systematically denied the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, national identity and full enjoyment of all.[47]

 (8) Separation:   Separating Jewish and non -Jewish Communities:

 Land Access issues

* Inside Israel: 93% of the land within Israel was designated State land and through practical policies Palestinians are denied access to this land, which is for the exclusive access and use of Jewish Israelis. Both Palestinians and Jewish residents of Israel share access to the remaining 7% in private ownership, so that Palestinians as 20% of the population in Israel have access to less than 7% of the land. The result of this is confining Palestinians into restricted, deliberately under-developed enclaves with reduced access to necessary resources, services and facilities. Israel has no laws to prevent discrimination in issues of land ownership, leasing, and residency issues. Israel’s use of quasi-governmental agencies and zoning or planning laws continue to confine Palestinians and particular areas and prevent natural growth. 34% of East Jerusalem is expropriated for ‘public use’ – and most of that is used for settlement construction. In occupied East Jerusalem (66%) is not accessible for Palestinians because of Israeli zoning, planning and building restrictions (for e.g. 40% is zoned ‘Green area’).[48]

* In the Occupied Palestinian Territories

            Since 1967 the Israeli colonizing/occupying power has expropriated about 79% of the West Bank and Gaza Territories. Of these areas, about 44% was taken for so-called “military” purposes, 20% for “security reasons”, 12% for “public use”, and 12% because the owners were forced “absentees”. Likewise Palestinians have been confined to Bantustan-style enclaves, again with reduced access to necessary resources (including water supplies), services and facilities. The impact of the closures/siege and imprisonment of civilians on access to resources is detailed below.[49]

(A) Imposition of Military Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (except East Jerusalem) and ‘scare-mongering tactics’ has led to most Jewish Israelis from not traveling into and/or being denied access into the Palestinian areas of the Occupied Palestinian Territories

(B) Marriage Laws. Inside Israel, marriage is regulated under the personal status religious law, which effectively prohibits mixed marriages between Jews and non-Jews. The State of Israel only recognizes mixed marriages which took place in other countries. There is no law that allows civil marriages which would enable mixed marriage ceremonies to be performed inside Israel.

(C) Separating Palestinians from each other.  Palestinian communities and immediate families, such as parents and children, or spouses are brutally cut off from each other.

Since 1948, Palestinian communities inside Israel have been cut off from wider Arab communities in neighboring Arab States.

Since 1967, with the illegal occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, families inside East Jerusalem have been cut off from their families inside the rest of the West Bank and Gaza, including members of their immediate family. Some have been only allowed through Israeli permits to visit, but it is prohibited to move there. Since this date communities inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories, other than Jerusalemites, have been cut off from family inside Israel. In most cases these cut off individuals have been denied their rights of reunification with their family members.

From 1989, residents in Gaza have been cut off from the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and to outside neighboring countries. Since 1993, those within the West Bank have been forbidden to access those in Gaza, inside Jerusalem, or Israel. Curfews, partial and total closures have been used on an ad hoc basis since this period.

Since 1995, with the Oslo Interim Agreement Palestinian areas within the West Bank and Gaza have been splintered further and made discontiguous. The demographic engineering has intensified with increasing numbers of checkpoints and strategically placed settlements controlling passage of residents internally inside the West Bank, and inside Gaza. Settlements and by-pass roads have been strategically placed to isolate, encircle and cut off communities – dividing the West Bank and Gaza into tiny areas and creating ‘cantons’.

            Since 1996, those seeking to move to other parts of the West Bank from Jerusalem, including to be unified with their families have had their residency rights revoked. Palestinian women born in Jerusalem are not entitled to pass on their residency rights to their children.

Since September 2000, the restrictions on movement and access of Palestinian civilian populations has intensified further with longer and more comprehensive total closures on movement including from village to village and village to city. Israelis, including Jewish Israelis, are often being denied access into the West Bank and routinely denied access into Gaza.

Since March 2001, a number of trenches have been dug into main roads cutting off all movement for villagers to any other areas, including urban centers upon which they rely for work, education, humanitarian aid and assistance including medicines, field clinics and hospitals, and crucial supplies including food and water supplies. The use of trenches instead of checkpoints in certain points prevents civilians from negotiating passage with soldiers or settlers including for humanitarian reasons.

Since June 2001, further trenches have been installed and gates are starting to be erected closing off villages and cities with keys held by the Israeli military.

(D) Military attacks on civilians, including those amounting to grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 (namely war crimes) and systematic gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Evidence of systematic ethnic cleansing methods and the intention to destroy is clear cut at least in part the population (i.e. genocide). Heavy weaponry normally used in full combat warfare is being used against a Palestinian civilian population in situations where there is no military or security need (including Civilians in homes, schools, workplaces, hospitals, field clinics, ambulances). A disproportionate number of women and children have been killed and injured, as have clearly-marked medical personnel, human rights defenders and journalists have also been attacked. Crimes perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians are usually inadequately investigated or prosecuted, and there is a bias in sentencing of Palestinians. Military courts apply the ‘justice’ in the OPTs and do not comply with fair trial standards.[50]

Other Israeli forms of discrimination leading to exclusivity, and exclusion

Political participation. Palestinians political participation inside Israel is expressly conditional upon the acceptance of the Jewish Exclusivity of the State. This pre condition is expressed explicitly in the 1992 Law of Political Party, and in particular, the amendment of Section 7A (1) of the Basic law: the Knesset, which prevents candidates from participation if their platform suggests ““expressly or by implication,… (1) denial of the existence of the State of Israel as the State of the Jewish people“.

(A) Military service. A basic method used by Israel to racially discriminate against Palestinians inside Israel in the allocation of resources and governmental benefits is by making these rights conditional upon performing a military service. Under law, military service is compulsory for all its citizens and permanent residents. Muslim and Christian Palestinians are exempted automatically as a group according to the discretion given by law to the Minister of Defense. Druze men are called to serve because the exemption of Palestinians did not include the Druze. This is part of Israel’s policy to divide the Palestinians into religious minorities. Orthodox Jews have to apply for individual exemption, for which there are rules that guide this process, which are also under Minister’s discretion.

(B) Symbols of the State. All symbols of the State including on public State buildings are Jewish, and do not reflect the other religions (including Christianity and Islam) or other non-Jewish populations. There is no protection against religious discrimination, including harassment of religious institutions through State interference with their administration (including State veto on voting of Patriarchs and other Church leaders; and exorbitant taxes imposed on Jerusalem residents of non-Jewish faiths in particular Christians and Muslims).

(C) Allocation of resources – Palestinians inside Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories suffer from discrimination in every aspect of resource allocation, including in the allocation of the financial budget for Palestinians inside Israel, to resources (water, electricity, municipal funding for services; etc).

(D) Palestinian Refugees: In 1948, some 531 villages were depopulated and 750,000 Palestinians displaced and expelled. Palestinian refugees from 1948 and their descendants comprise the bulk of the Palestinian refugee population today, numbering over 5 million persons and constituting nearly two-thirds of the Palestinian people. If one includes Palestinians displaced during the 1967 war and those internally displaced within Israel, approximately ¾ of the Palestinian people have been uprooted from their land over the past five decades, making this the largest and one of the longest standing unresolved refugee cases in the world today. The majority of these refugees reside within 100 miles of their places of origin, whether inside Israel or in the OPTs, but are unable to exercise their right to return to their homes and lands. About 1.5 million Palestinian refugees live in the OPTs, and about 250,000 Palestinians inside Israel have been internally displaced. Most of the refugees live in squalid, densely populated unsanitary refugee camps with makeshift homes, are regularly deprived of basic rights, such as access to adequate food, water, education and work, and are still subjected to land confiscation / property destruction and forms of collective punishment. Israel refuses to acknowledge its responsibilities for the creation of this refugee population or comply with its obligations towards them, including permitting the rights of return, restitution and compensation as affirmed in UN Resolution 194.[51]

Palestinians Inside Israel: Racial discrimination inferior minority. In 1948, a variety of methods were used to ensure that Palestinians became a ‘minority’ in the newly created State of Israel, including mass deportations, massacres and ethnic cleansing. Racism is still prevalent throughout many Israeli institutions, including the government, legislature, judiciary, army and religious bodies, and these institutions emphasize the State’s national-religious ethnic character. Of grave concern is the maintenance of discriminatory laws and policies, encompassing such issues as land and housing; citizenship; political participation; culture; language; education; religious rights; and social, economic and employment rights. As a result of these laws and policies, the Palestinian minority in Israel is subject to systematic racial discrimination, including:[52]

v     Forcible evacuation from their villages and land through laws and regulations aimed at bringing Palestinian-owned and Palestinian-held lands to state ownership.

v     Demolition of houses and denial of services such as electricity, water, educational and health facilities in scores of ‘unrecognized’ Palestinian villages.

v     Lack of equal opportunity in education and employment.

v     Denial of their national identity, including the right to practice, develop and teach their culture, religion, language and history.

v     Racial profiling and ill-treatment of the Palestinian minority by Israeli security forces.

The Palestinian Demographic Bomb: Israel’s Nightmare

An exploding birthrate means that Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel  next twenty years. How long can Israel continue to rule a “minority” population larger than its Jewish one? This question was raised by the writer Flore de Preneuf on 19 December 2001 in an article published on the internet.[53]

Just when the fear of roadside ambushes and suicide bombings was crippling daily life inside Israeli and the security establishment forecast more Palestinian attacks in the near future, an Israeli demographer shows up with more bad news: Even without war, in a few decades there may be no Israel to speak of.[54]

In 2020, Jews will be a distinct minority in the so called “Greater Israel,” the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, encompassing both the internationally recognized state of Israel and the occupied territories, comprising the West Bank and Gaza. According to recent predictions, Arabs will form 58 percent of the total population, up from 49.5 percent today. In Israel proper, Jews will remain a majority but their percentage will drop from 73 percent today to 68 percent in two decades. Counter-terrorism and military raids may work to stave off short-term Palestinian threats, but the demographic equation puts in doubt the survival of the entire Zionist enterprise — particularly if Israel holds on to the occupied territories.[55]

“If we continue with the status quo, with no decision-making, we have only another 15 years,” warned Arnon Soffer, the author of a report on Israeli demography that made a big splash this summer. “If we talk about Greater Israel, we’re a minority from this year on.” [56]

Today, the numbers of Jews and non-Jews (including Asian and Eastern European workers) are running neck and neck, at just under 5 million each. But the difference in fertility rates between Arabs and Jews is about to topple that precarious balance. While the average Jewish Israeli woman has 2.5 children in her lifetime, her Muslim Arab counterpart in Israel and the West Bank has five children, and in Gaza, one of the most densely populated strips of land in the world, a woman typically has seven. (The fertility rate of Christian Arabs is similar to that of Jews.)[57]

“There is something hateful in counting heads and considering them a threat,” said Avishai Margalit, an Israeli political philosopher, in a phone interview recently. “But the reality is that we are now in a tribal war, so you count who’s on your side and who’s against you.”

In the ongoing competition between the Arab and Jewish national movements, the number of births, arrivals and departures may matter more than the number of people killed in skirmishes and Palestinian attacks. Jewish immigration is down by roughly 28 percent compared to year 2000. This is partly because of insecurity created by the Intifada and partly because in preceding years, years of economic distress in Russia, immigration was unusually high, according to the Jewish Agency. Unless a new wave of anti-Semitism dislodges Jews in Europe and in America, immigration will dry up almost entirely because the Jewish population abroad is becoming more scarce in countries like Russia, and generally older and more assimilated than in the past.[58]

At the same time, a quiet Palestinian exodus is under way, as families with connections abroad and enough pocket money leave to seek safety and work overseas. But the number of departing Arabs is not high enough to assuage Israeli fears of a demographic takeover. Palestinians may be fleeing, but in the long run, the wealthiest and brightest Israelis will leave too, predicts Soffer. A veteran demographer at Israel’s Haifa University, Soffer cites the general deterioration of life in Israel, which includes the growth of relatively poor, anti-Zionist sectors of society (ultra-Orthodox Jews and Israeli Arabs will form 50 percent of the population in 2020), the worsening of daily violence, economic depression, and ethnic strife. His predictions are based on the example of Jerusalem, which young professional Israelis are deserting for all those same reasons: too many religious people, too many Arabs, too many bombs and too few jobs.[59]

And in the Holy Land’s maternity wards, Jews will be outpaced. “Time is running out!” warned Soffer, a spry 66-year-old who relishes his position as the nation’s Cassandra.[60]

The Israeli obsession with demographic numbers is not new. The 19th century ideology known as Zionism aimed to provide a nation-state for the Jews — a country where Jews, being a majority, would feel safer than as a scattered, often-persecuted people in the Diaspora. “Population size was critical to the Zionist enterprise,” said Calvin Goldscheider, who holds a joint appointment as professor of sociology and professor of Judaic studies at Brown University. “They saw strength in numbers. They could only do certain things if they were numerous, and they were concerned about how many Arabs there were. British policy [during the Mandate] was to control the relative proportions of Jews and Arabs, but Jews objected to this because it would mean they would be a permanent minority.” [61]

Israeli War of 1948 changed that. A large piece of Mandatory Palestine became a Jewish-dominated state, to the detriment of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs who either lost their land and homes and became refugees in the West Bank, Gaza and neighboring Arab states, or were relegated to an inferior class of citizenship and became known as Israeli Arabs. Although Israel, striving to be both Jewish and democratic, gave the Israeli Arabs voting rights and required that they pay taxes, they were systematically denied equal access to land, jobs and education — a situation that continues to this day. Later, Israel strengthened its numbers — and viability — by encouraging massive Jewish immigration from neighboring countries in the Middle East in the 1950s, and in the 1990s again by flinging its doors wide open to hundreds of thousands of Jews and their relatives from the former Soviet Union. To this day, anyone who can prove that their grandmother or grandfather was Jewish is welcomed into Zion — a sign of Israel’s desperate need to stay ahead in the race against Arab fertility and a sore point with Orthodox Jews, who insist Jewishness can only be transmitted by a Jewish mother or acquired through conversion. [62]

Goldscheider thinks that talk of a demographic threat to Israel is irresponsible hysteria. He points out that the proportion of Arabs in sovereign Israel has remained relatively constant at about 20 percent since the 1970s, despite their greater natural increase rates, thanks to Jewish immigration.

When immigration flagged in the late 1950s, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, began to talk about “internal immigration,” urging people to have more babies. “The thinking was, ‘We’ll outbreed them,'” said Goldscheider. (A “Ben-Gurion” prize was introduced to reward the mother of the year but, ironically, the winners were always Muslim Arabs, and the prize was eventually scrapped.)[63]

Numbers are also key to understanding Israel’s positions on peace with Palestinians today. Realization of the “right of return,” for example, by potentially 3.7 million Palestinians registered as refugees with the United Nations would signal the abrupt end of Israel as a Jewish-dominated state. In addition to being impractical (most of the houses Palestinians deserted in 1948 were destroyed or taken over by Jews), it is seen by both left-wing and right-wing Israelis as an unacceptable demand, simply code for the destruction of Israel.[64]

On the other hand, divesting Israel of the territories it gained in the 1967 Six Day War, where roughly 3 million Palestinians live, is seen as a priority by part of the Israeli public. The need to get rid of territory on which Arabs live so that Israel could remain a Jewish-dominated, democratic state was one of the underlying issues driving left-wing Israelis like Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin to draft and sign the Oslo Accords in 1993. “The point was: Give back territory to save Israel from demography,” said Sari Nusseibeh, one of the chief Palestinian negotiators at the time and a moderate intellectual who was recently made Yasser Arafat’s diplomatic representative in East Jerusalem.[65]

But for Israeli right-wingers, territory has always been more important than democracy in the competing list of Israeli ambitions. (Nahum Barnea, a veteran Israeli columnist, sums up the differences between the two major Israeli political factions pithily: “Likud is geographic, while Labor is demographic.”).[66]

“People on the right usually evade the issue [of Arab numerical superiority], say the statistics are wrong or entertain Zeevi-like fantasies and want to kick Arabs out,” said political philosopher Margalit, referring to Rechavam Zeevi, the far-right minister who was assassinated by a Palestinian fall. Influenced by demographic projections like Soffer’s, Zeevi proposed to expel or “transfer” Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza to neighboring Arab states. Other right-wingers, repelled by the ethnic cleansing connotations of the transfer solution, believe in hanging onto Greater Israel by increasing Jewish settlements in the territories and granting non-Jews limited rights. This is where the idea of autonomy within an Israeli framework came from, or in today’s terms, the idea of an emasculated “Palestinian state” whose borders, roads and economic life would be controlled by Israel. It is the scenario preferred by current Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and, basically, a continuation of the status quo.[67]

“It doesn’t matter how many people you rule over. France colonized countries larger than itself. You just send more soldiers to control the colonized populations,” said Goldschieder. “Whether you occupy 3, 4 or 5 million Arabs is a security issue, not a political problem, as long as they don’t have political rights,” concurred Margalit.[68]

For Soffer and many other Israelis, if Israeli Jews start lording it over a population significantly larger than their own, the situation will smack of apartheid: “This is a South Africa situation with a minority of whites controlling others,” he said, apparently more worried by the negative parallels international public opinion might draw than mindful of the moral argument against abusing people’s rights, regardless of their numbers. “Voting rights is not the only thing that matters. We will be flooded by others. We already have a hard time being both Jewish and democratic. I cannot say that we have solved this problem yet.”[69]

Israeli Arabs and Palestinians are already subject to various forms of apartheid — on the roads, at checkpoints and in the job market. But Soffer fears that pent-up frustration against state discrimination and growing Palestinian nationalism among Israel’s Arab minority will express itself in the future in a large unified voting bloc that will undermine Israel’s political stability. On war-and-peace issues, some of the 11 Israeli-Arab representatives in the Knesset already have begun showing more solidarity with their Palestinian brothers than loyalty toward the Jewish state. (Azmi Bishara, an Arab member of the Knesset, is currently on trial for calling this year for the continuation of the armed Intifada against Israel at a meeting attended by members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Islamic guerrilla group and one of Israel’s sworn enemies.) In another few years, as the representation of Israeli Arabs grows, “they will be able to decide whether the state of Israel should be a Jewish-Zionist state or whether it should turn into a state of all its citizens,” warned Soffer in his study.[70]

Soffer also predicts that the demographic boom will turn the security situation into an even bigger nightmare than it is now. Increased numbers of Palestinians living in abject poverty in the West Bank and Gaza will feed radical movements and multiply Palestinian attempts to sneak into Israel to work or commit violent acts, he warns. If Gaza’s population doubles in 20 years as it is expected to, while its already overburdened infrastructure continues to collapse, “then one has to expect a decline in the standards of living and despondency. Such an embittered population is dangerous and it is reasonable to assume it will turn to extremist measures, from terror to holy war,” wrote Soffer in his latest study. (Palestinian population growth is already a problem for the Palestinian Authority, whose limited resources; corruption and inefficiency prevent it from addressing society’s growing needs, thereby opening a breach for Islamic charities run by radical groups like Hamas.) Strangely, given the strong resonance that numbers have in Israeli minds, the demographic equation has not been a major component of Palestinian strategy against Israel until recently. True, Arafat has been quoted in the past referring to Palestinian wombs as his people’s best weapon, and Palestinian mothers have been known to call their children “Jihad” (Holy War), anticipating their little ones’ sacrifices for the Palestinian struggle. But Palestinian birthrates are not a conscious expression of patriotism. In traditional Arab societies, “you’re a better man if you have more children,” explained Nusseibeh. “It has nothing to do with Israel.” Even Soffer agrees: “I don’t think when they go to bed, they think of Palestine. It’s the prestige of having a large family that matters.” [71]

According to Goldscheider, the decline of Muslim fertility in the 20th century was actually “delayed indirectly by Israeli policies that segregated Arabs and gave them very few incentives to have fewer children. Palestinians have a very high fertility rate because they are extraordinarily poor,” he said. “They have no jobs except for the work doled out by Israel, their women are subservient, the schooling system is bad and there are no benefits to having fewer children. They have children so they can work and support the family. In Jewish Israel, there are plenty of reasons to have fewer kids: You can have a bigger apartment, buy more goods, invest in your children’s education.” [72]

That said, bedrooms and politics do sometimes mix. Jewish Israeli fertility rates are notably higher than in the West due to religious and ideological factors, said Soffer. Ultra-Orthodox women, encouraged by their rabbis and husbands to enlarge their pious tribe, have an average of seven children — just like Gazan women. Settlers, who believe it is their duty to people the occupied territories with ever more Jews, also have huge families despite the economic incentives to have fewer children in a modern society. Even among secular Jews, “you hear people say that we have to compensate for the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust or that we should have more children because we live in a hostile region,” said Soffer.[73]

But Palestinians are starting to catch on. “More and more now, you hear people say, ‘We’re going to win by numbers,'” said Nusseibeh. In a Palestinian textbook published in 2000, 11th-grade students are told that “the increase of fertility rates is a demographic weapon that can be used in resisting the occupation. It plays a positive role in the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Although Nusseibeh himself has used demographic arguments to pressure Israel into negotiations for a long time (“I always assumed it was a good weapon — better than guns, certainly”), he said Palestinians were not interested in numbers and thought him crazy. “I was criticized by my colleagues after I was quoted in Newsweek in the early 1980s saying, ‘Let them annex us.’ I wrote: Annex us and very quickly we’ll turn Israel into an Arab or bi-national state. But other Palestinians said: We don’t want to be annexed, we want a Palestinian state.”[74]

According to people who knew him well, the late Faisal Husseini, Nusseibeh’s predecessor as the head of Orient House, the Palestinian office representing Arafat in Jerusalem, was also fond of saying: “It’s not Israel who is giving us a state, it’s we Palestinians who are giving them one. If Israelis don’t give us a state, they’ll lose theirs.”[75]

            But Palestinian calculations have gone beyond the call for an independent state in the past few years. As disaffection toward the Palestinian Authority — a Palestinian state in embryo — grew among ordinary Palestinians and intellectuals, some Palestinians began reconsidering their whole strategy, according to Nusseibeh, and calling instead for the right of return. “The two slogans during the first intifada were freedom and independence. Return wasn’t a major concern. At Madrid [where the two-state solution was first officially proposed, in 1991] people knew return was not in the cards. But people got second thoughts when Arafat came back from Tunis and they saw what he was like, what the Palestinian Authority was like,” said Nusseibeh. “Palestinians got the worst of two worlds: Aspects of the occupation still prevailed because of the limits on freedom of movement; at the same time they saw the worst aspects of the Palestinian Authority: corruption, inefficiency, instances of brutality.”[76]

While Arafat still publicly supports the idea of peace based on two separate states, the competing idea of a bi-national state and the call for the return of refugees (with the understanding that Arabs will vastly outnumber Jews) have become increasingly popular among Palestinians radicalized by the failure of the 8-year-old Oslo Accords to significantly improve their lot and by 15 months of brutal, costly Intifada. People like Nusseibeh who dare speak out against the return of refugees today are considered traitors, while those who trumpet the issue become instant political heroes. The shift away from a two-state solution — which most analysts agree is the only practical blueprint for peace — is not final, however. “It depends on how things develop on the ground,” said Nusseibeh. “If Sharon slices [the occupied territories] up and creates four bits of Palestine, Palestinians will say it’s obviously not good enough,” and they will demand the whole pie.[77]

         On the Israeli side, numbers have also been corralled into supporting the latest fad: the building of a country-long fortified fence that would separate Israelis from their Palestinian neighbors and protect them from the hordes of terrorists pressing at their gates. The more numerous and hostile Arabs there are, the more urgent the need for the wall, says Soffer, who apologizes for “talking about walls at the beginning of the 21st century” with the standard argument that “unfortunately, Israel isn’t in Europe.” While he crisscrosses the country these days, meeting with ordinary people and decision-makers, Soffer, who describes himself as “both a dove and a hawk,” does more than spread alarm. Along with ambitious politicians who have jumped on the issue in the hope of challenging Sharon, Soffer has become one of the major advocates of “unilateral separation,” an idea first discussed by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. “Never in my life did I get such positive feedback,” said Soffer, whose monograph is now in its third edition. “People are frustrated. They feel that they are in a cul-de-sac. But I’m coming with a threat and a solution.”[78]


            Combining the perspectives of Israel’s political left and right, unilateral separation appeals to a majority of Israelis who feel that the idea of Greater Israel and real peace are mutually exclusive: Israel cannot sign an end-of-conflict deal with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, nor can it continue occupying the West Bank and Gaza and ruling over millions of Arabs. Therefore, Israel must pull out, regroup and physically protect its new borders — a literal implementation of the “Iron Wall” against Arab hostility called for in 1923 by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, founder of revisionist Zionism and the spiritual father of right-wing Israeli leaders from Menachem Begin through Ariel Sharon.

“I prefer to be in a very strong, small ghetto than exposed to Palestinian threats,” said Soffer, summing up the feelings of many. “Of course, the ghetto can’t be too small and shouldn’t become smaller and smaller. I need to defend my area.”[79]

But the problem is: Where do you plant the fence? Whether Israel should carve out East Jerusalem to get rid of Arab-dominated neighborhoods, transfer pockets of land in the north populated by Israeli Arabs to Palestinian sovereignty, surrender strategic assets like the Jordan Valley and evacuate settlements in the West Bank and Gaza are still highly divisive political questions that numbers alone can’t answer.[80] Goldscheider, the American professor, dismissively sums up the arguments of those who advocate building a fence: “All the good reasons for separation and giving Palestinians their own state — political, moral, military reasons — don’t work, so you might as well try neutral statistical arguments and say: ‘Watch out, they’ll outbreed us.’ But that’s not the real issue. The real issue is statehood and empowerment, Palestinians having control over their own lives.” And to address that, diplomacy, not demography, is the only answer.[81]

Analysts say that It never seems to occur to them that there are simpler and more obvious ways to allay their fear of the Palestinians’ demographic bomb – such as learning to live alongside them.

Finally, Israel’s fear of the Palestinian demographic bomb has been used to justify the Israeli harsh and savage measures and policies towards the Palestinians.



The Demographic Map inside Israel 2002:  Main Arab towns in Israel by alphabetical order[82]



Location (Region, District) Arab Population (in Thousands)
Abu Sinan North; Acre 9.3
Acre (Akka) North; Acre (‘Mixed City’: Arabs represent 24% of 45,300 inhabitants) 10.9
Akko*: see under: Acre
Ar’ara North; Hadera 12.1
Ar’arat Al-Naqab (Aro’er*) Centre; Hadera 7.8
Arrabe North; Acre 14.7
Baqa Al-Gharbiya Centre; Hadera 16.3
Barta’a: see under: Basma*
Basma (Barta’a, Mu’awiya, Ein Al-Sahle) Centre; Hadera 5.0
Bayyada: see under: Maaleh Iron*
Beit Jann North; Acre 8.2
Bi’ne (Al-) North; Acre 5.7
Bir Al-Maksur North; Acre 5.3
Bu’eine-Nujeida (Al-) North; Nazareth 5.8
Dabburiya North; Afula 6.4
Daliyat Al-Karmel North; Haifa 11.8
Deir Al-Asad North; Acre 6.9
Deir Hanna North; Acre 6.6
Ein Al-Sahle: see under: Basma*
Ein Mahel North; Nazareth 8.2
Fureidis (Al-) North; Haifa 7.9
Haifa North; Haifa. (‘Mixed City’: Arabs represent 12% of 262,600 inhabitants) 32.4
I’bilin North; Acre 8.5
Iksal North; Afula 8.5
Isfiya North; Haifa 8.5
Jaffa (Tel Aviv-Yafo*) Centre; Tel Aviv (‘Mixed City’: Arabs represent 6% of 349,200 inhabitants) 19.7
Jaffa of Nazareth: see under: Yafa of Nazareth
Jaljuliya Centre; Petah Tiqva 5.4
Jatt Centre; Hadera 7.2
Jisr Al-Zarqa’ North; Haifa 8.3
Judeida (Al-)-Makr North; Acre 13.4
Kabul North; Acre 7.3
Kafr Kanna North; Nazareth 13.4
Kafr Manda North; Nazareth 11.4
Kafr Qare’ Centre; Hadera 11.2
Kafr Qasem Centre; Petah Tiqva 12.6
Kafr Summei’a: see under: Kisra
Kfar… see under: Kafr…
Kisra-Kafr Summei’a North; Acre 5.3
Kufr… see under: Kafr…
Lod*: see under: Lud (Al-)
Lud (Al-) Centre; Ramle (‘Mixed City’: Arabs represent 21% of 55,000 inhabitants) 11.4
Maaleh Iron* (Musmus, Al-Musheirfe, Salem, Al-Zalafe, Bayyada) Centre; Hadera 8.7
Maalot-Tarshiha*: see under: Tarshiha
Maghar (Al-) North; Tiberias 15.6
Majd Al-Kurum North; Acre 9.6
Makr (Al-): see under: Judeida (Al-)
Mashhad North; Nazareth 5.4
Mu’awiya: see under: Basma*
Musheirfe (Al-): see under: Maaleh Iron*
Musmus: see under: Maaleh Iron*
Nahaf North; Acre 7.6
Natzrat Illit* North; Nazareth (‘Mixed City’: Arabs represent 11% of the total city’s population) 4.2
Nazareth North; Nazareth 54.1
Nazareth Illit: see under: Natzrat Illit*
Nujeida (Al-): see under: Bu’eina (Al-)
Qalansuwwa Centre; Netanya 12.4
Rahat* Negev 24.6
Rame (Al-) North; Acre 6.8
Ramle Centre; Ramle (‘Mixed City’: Arabs represent 17% of 60,000 inhabitants) 10.4
Reine (Al-) North; Nazareth 12.2
Sakhnin North; Acre 19.2
Salem: see under: Maaleh Iron*
Shafa’amr North; Acre 25.4
Shfar’am*: see under: Shafa’amr
Tamra North; Acre 20.1
Tarshiha (Maalot-Tarshiha*) North; Acre (‘Mixed City’: Arabs represent 26% of 16,800 residents of Maalot-Tarshiha) 4.3
Tayibe (Al-) Centre; Netanya 25.3
Tel Al-Saba’ Negev 7.6
Tel Aviv-Yafo*: see under: Jaffa
Tira (Al-) Centre; Netanya 16.4
Tur’an North; Nazareth 8.7
Umm Al-Fahm Centre; Hadera 30.7
Upper Nazareth: see under: Natzrat Illit*
Yafa of Nazareth (Yafat Al-Nasira) North; Nazareth 12.7
Yafi’a*: see under: Yafa of Nazareth
Yarka North; Acre 9.9
Zalafe (Al-): see under: Maaleh Iron*

(*) Asterisks designate Hebrew names


Projections of Population in Israel for 2005- 2020

(In thousands, unless otherwise stated)

2020 2010 2005
8,994.3 7,639.2 6,998.6
  • Source: Israel Bureau of Statistics, 2002.

Projections of Population in Israel for 2005- 2020 by Population Group

(In thousands, unless otherwise stated)

2020 2010 2005
6,902.4 6,065.2 5,636.2 Jews and others *
1,975.8 1,554.6 1,357.1 Arab
  • The “Jews and others” population include Jews, other Christian (non-Arab Christian) and those not classified by religion.
  • Source: Israel Bureau of Statistics, 2002.

Projections of Population in Israel for 2005- 2020  by Population Group

(In thousands, unless otherwise stated)

2020 2010 2005
6,902.4 6,065.2 5,636.2 Jews
1,676.6 1,299.8 1,124.4 Moslems
169.2 152.8 143.3 Christians
156.9 130.2 116.7 Druze
1,105.4 1,048.5 968.0 Former USSR population
  • Source:  Compiled from a number of tables issued by Israel Bureau of Statistics.

[1] Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel,

[2] Dickey, Christopher and Klaidman, Daniel, How Will Israeli Survive? Newsweek,

[3] Dickey, Christopher and Klaidman, Daniel, How Will Israeli Survive? Newsweek,

[4] Dickey, Christopher and Klaidman, Daniel, How Will Israeli Survive? Newsweek,

[5] www.Israel2020


[7]  Galili, Lily, “a Jewish Demographic State”. Ha’aretz, 28 June 2002




[11]  Israel Demographic Forum,


[13] among other references and literature focusing on the Israeli-Arab demographic dispute:

Carmon, N. and T.Trop, “Population, Education, and Man-Power in Israel in the 21st Centruy: Trends and Forecasts”. In: The Range of Options. A Socially Focused alternative. “Israel 2020”-Master Plan for Israel in the 21st Century, Haifa: Technion, 1996.

[14] Soffer, Arnon, Population Dispersal-the Next Zionist Challenges?, Policy Paper No. 42, Ariel Center for Policy Research, Tel-Aviv,  September 1998.

[15] The project, “Master Plan for Israel in the years 2000 (in the range of about 30 years)” is an initiative of the Association of Architects and Urban Planners of Israel and the Strategic Planning Unit of the Jewish Agency Department of Settlement and Development. The Planning was initiated in 1994.

[16] Soffer, Population Dispersal-the Next Zionist Challenges?, Policy Paper No. 42, Ariel Center for Policy Research, Tel-Aviv,   September 1998

[17] Soffer, Arab births present Israel with a growing problem”

[18] Soffer, Population Dispersal-the Next Zionist Challenges?, Policy Paper No. 42, Ariel Center for Policy Research, Tel-Aviv,   September 1998

[19] Soffer, Arab births present Israel with a growing problem”

[20] Soffer, Arnon, “The Impact of Demography on Middle East Politics”, Washington Istitute for Near East Policy, A Lecture delivered on 10/4/02.

[21] For more details have a look at: Israeli Report: By 2020, Jews will be Minority in Region,

[22]  Soffer, Arnon, “The Impact of Demography on Middle East Politics”, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, A Lecture delivered on 10/4/02


[24] Soffer, Arnon, “The Impact of Demography on Middle East Politics”, Washington Istitute for Near East Policy, A Lecture delivered on 10/4/02

[25]Soffer, Arnon, “The Impact of Demography on Middle East Politics”, Washington Istitute for Near East Policy, A Lecture delivered on 10/4/02.

[26] Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel,

[27] Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel,

[28] Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel,

[29] Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel,

[30] Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel,

[31] Oslo Accords 1993 limited the Palestine question to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

[32] Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel,

[33] Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel,

[34]  The International Law pays attention to the minorities rights.

[35] There is no accurate census of the Palestinian people number and the abovementioned numbers are mere rough estimations.

[36] Israel Demographic Forum, 7 Points to Ponder,

[37] Abunimah, Ali, Apartheid and Israel,

[38]Israel Demographic Forum, 7 Points to Ponder,

[39]  LAW, The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and Environment,

[40] Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel,

[41] Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel,

[42]  Most of the human rights organization mention elements of the Israeli harsh measures against the Palestinian.

[43] Al-Haj, Majid, The Status of the Palestinians within Israel under the Shadow of the Intifada, Center for Strategic Studies, roundtable Discussions, Haifa University, August 15, 2002.

[44]  The Israeli polices towards Jerusalem is clear cut and Judaization of the city is a stark policy.

[45] Whitaker, Brian, Israel Faces “Existential Crisis”, The Guardian, Monday, July 23, 2001.

[46] Hanafi, Sari, Why the Average Palestinian is Offering a Cold Shoulder, 12.12.2002, www,

[47] The colonial character of Israel does not need a proof because it is a fact.

[48] Commentary Magazine, Israel’s Demographic Time Bomb, Washington, August 31, 2001.

[49] Reports from various human rights NGOs.

[50] Israeli measures against the Palestinians,

[51] Khalidi, Waleed, It is Forbidden to Forget: Palestinian Villages Demolished by Israel, Institute for Palestine Studies, Beirut, 1998.

[52] Al-Haj, Majid, The Status of the Palestinians within Israel under the Shadow of the Intifada, Center for Strategic Studies, roundtable Discussions, Haifa University, August 15, 2002.

[53] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[54] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[55] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[56] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[57] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[58] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[59] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[60] Woolacott, Martin, Israel in a Prison of its Making, The Guardian Newspaper, June 15, 2001.

[61] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[62] Flore de Pr&eacute, neuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[63] T

[64] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[65] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[66] Brehhaan, Phil, Israel’s Population Bomb in Reverse,, Oct. 19, 2002.

[67] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[68] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[69] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[70] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[71] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[72] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[73] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[74] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[75] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[76] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[77] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[78] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[79] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[80]  Courbage, Yussef, Mirage of Palestinian Statehood Demographic Stake,, April, 1999.

[81] Flore de Preneuf, The ticking Palestinian bomb that Israel can’t defuse,

[82] The Arab Association for Human Rights,

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عدم الإساءة للكاتب أو للأشخاص أو للمقدسات أو مهاجمة الأديان أو الذات الالهية. والابتعاد عن التحريض الطائفي والعنصري والشتائم.

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