The Palestinian Census - Smoke & Mirrors

Ynet (Hebrew edition only), February 10, 2008

The 2007Palestinian census is not a cause for fatalism.  In contrast with the census, the accurate number of Judea & Samaria Arabs is 1.5MN, and not 2.3MN, and the number of Gaza Arabs is 1.1MN, and not 1.5MN.


The Palestinian census is refuted by Palestinian, Israeli and international documentation of birth, death, migration, first-graders and eligible voter registration in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, which has been systematically conducted by the Bennett Zimmerman-led "American-Israeli Demographic Research Group" (AIDRG). 


While the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) contends a 30% population growth during the last 10 years, the World Bank documents a substantial erosion of the Palestinian fertility rate and a significant escalation of emigration from Judea, Samaria and Gaza.  The World Bank documents a 32% gap between the number of first graders per PCBS projections (24% increase) and per Palestinian Ministry of Education documentation (8% decrease).


A strange co-incidence has produced similarity between the 2007 census and the PCBS 1997 projection toward 2007, in spite of dramatic volatility in the areas of security, economics and politics, which has occurred since 1997, and which has caused a boost in Palestinian emigration and decline in fertility.  For example, terrorism and counter-terrorism, the Hamas-Fatah war, unprecedented (over 30%) unemployment, the rise in the price of oil and a corresponding rise in demand for manpower in the Arab oil producing countries, intensive UNRAW and PCBS-led family planning, an unprecedented reduction of teen-pregnancy, a swift urbanization process, an all-time-high Palestinian divorce rate, an impressive expansion of the education system and the increase in Palestinian median wedding-age.  The 1997 PCBS projections have been refuted annually by the documentation produced by the Palestinian Ministries of Health and Education and Election Commission, as well as by Israel's Border Police and European observers, monitoring exists and entries through Israel's, Judea, Samaria and Gaza’s international passages.


While the 2007 census ignores the bolstered emigration phenomenon, Israel's Border Police and the European Observers have documented net-emigration of 12,000 in 2004, 16,000 in 2005 and 25,000 in 2006, with expectation of a significant rise in the scope of 2007 net-emigration. The extent of 1997-2003 average annual net-emigration was over 10,000, which has characterized the entire period since 1950!


According to the PCBS website, the 2007 census was based on the 1997 census, which was inflated by 30%, growing exponentially by the year. Thus, in contrast with internationally accepted demographic standards, the 1997 census included 325,000 residents, who stayed abroad for over a year, as well as students, who studied overseas, irrespective of their study period. Israel subtracts from its census Israelis who are away for over a year, and restores them following 90 days of stay in Israel. The 1997 census included 210,000 Israeli Arabs, bearing Israeli I.D. cards, who were doubly-counted: as Israeli Arabs by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics and as West Bank Arabs by the PCBS.


In summation, the 2007 census for Judea & Samaria was inflated by 53%, and the Jewish-Arab proportion west of the Jordan River - without Gaza - documents a robust Jewish majority of 67%, compared with a 33% Jewish minority in 1947, including Gaza.  The most effective symptom of the transformation - from Arab to Jewish demographic momentum - has been the absolute annual number of Jewish and Arab births within Israel's "Green Line."  While the number of annual Arab births stagnated at 39,000 between 1995-2007, the number of annual Jewish births catapulted by 40% from 80,400 in 1995 to 112,000 in 2007.


There is a demographic problem, but it is not lethal, there is no demographic machete at Israel's throat, and the demgoraphic tailwind is Jewish, not Arab.  In fact, documented births, deaths and migration clarify that Jewish demography has become a strategic asset and not a liability. Hence, awareness of demographic reality could enhance the security, political, strategic, diplomatic and economic options of Israeli Doves and Hawks alike.