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December 12, 2013 10:23 am

“ŽNew Study Claims Arab Population in Israel is Shrinking

avatar by Aryeh Savir / Tazpit News Agency

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Palestinian boys raise their hands in a school run by the UNRWA. Photo: UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan.

A newly published study shows that the Arab population in Israel’s region is constantly shrinking, especially in the Gaza Strip, which is in contrast to a constant increase in the Jewish population.

The study, authored by Dr. Yaakov Feitelson and published by the Institute for Zionist Strategies, claims that the widely perceived beliefs about demography in Israel are misconceived.

According to the study, the Arab population of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza includes 2,762,000 Muslims, and roughly 52,000 Christians. This is approximately 1,331,000 people fewer than the number estimated by the Palestinian Authority.

While the natural increase rate, calculated by looking at birth and mortality rates, for Israeli Jews rose by 41.6 percent from 1995 to 2012, the Arab natural increase rate declined during the same time by 30.6 percent, with the rate now at its lowest level since 1955.

The study cites several reasons for the shrinking of the Arab population in Israel.

One is the emigration of young Arabs, which is expected to accelerate even more. A groundbreaking survey of the political and social attitudes of Arab youth, conducted by the Baladna Association for Arab Youth, reveals that roughly a quarter of Arab youths are considering emigration.

Feitelson points out that the Arab demographic “population bomb” has been perceived for decades as a looming threat to Jewish democracy in Israel. Lately it has been repeatedly cited as a justification for far-reaching territorial concessions. However, he claims that this study casts doubt on the threat.

This doesn’t mean that the demographic make-up of the local population is not a valid concern, but it does suggest that there is no justification for panic, he says.

“The State of Israel and the Jewish people might be drawn into erroneous demographic estimates that are based more upon emotions than on facts, and make fateful decisions that could seriously harm the future of the Jewish State. However, a demographic policy that would encourage Jewish immigration and the return home of Israelis who are living abroad, continuous improvement in the living standards in the country, together with a decline in the natural increase of the Arabs and their continued emigration from the country, may lead to a further rise in the proportion of Jews within the total population of the Land of Israel,” Feitelson concluded.

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