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A Jewish Majority in the Land of Israel

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Growth trends and population forecasts have played a significant role in the political landscape of the Middle East, especially over the thorny question of Israel and the disputed territories.

The notion that the Jewish majority of Israel is in danger of being swamped by Arab fertility has repeatedly been used as a political and psychological weapon to extract territorial concessions from the Israeli government. In September 2010, U.S. president Barack Obama referred to the so-called “hard realities of demography” that threaten the survival of the Jewish state.[1]

Such a conclusion is wrong. Analysis of long-term demographic developments leads to quite the opposite conclusion: In the long run, a strong Jewish majority, not only in the state of Israel—as this author projected almost twenty-five years ago[2] and the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics recently reaffirmed[3]—but also in the Land of Israel[4] is quite possible.

Middle East Population Annual Growth

It is useful to analyze the processes among world populations in general and in the Middle East and the Arab world in particular. Such scrutiny helps to determine whether demographic trends within the Jewish and Arab population groups living in the Land of Israel differ or resemble the general tendencies observable within the global population over the last sixty plus years, the same general time frame as that of the state of Israel.

Beginning in 1966, the annual population growth in the Middle East rose consistently until it peaked at 3.24 percent in 1980[5] when it began to ebb—at a faster pace than in the developed world.[6] In the subsequent thirty-two years, the Middle East population increase has gone down by more than a half, to 1.45 percent in 2012.

During that same period, the annual growth rate of the Jewish population in Israel was much higher than in developed countries, largely due to the ongoing repatriation of Jews from various countries to Israel.[7] For the same reason, the annual increase of the Israeli Jewish population was, for the most part, higher than the population in less-developed countries. During the times of mass immigration to Israel, the Jewish growth rate was also significantly higher than the aggregated growth rate of Middle Eastern countries.

Since 2003, the annual increase of Jewish Israelis has grown steadily from 1.48 percent to 1.81 percent[8] while the aggregated annual increase of the Middle Eastern countries has decreased to 1.45 percent.

Population Changes among Israelis

After reaching its all-time peak of 2.89 percent in 1951, the natural increase rate of Israeli Jews began to decline, dropping to 1.07 percent by 1995. This sharp decrease was due to the influx of close to 600,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union in 1990-95,[9] which paradoxically lowered the natural increase rate for the Jewish population as it took approximately five years for the new citizens to settle in properly and start families. Thus, despite a lowered natural increase rate, the Jewish population grew in total by 24 percent. By 1995, the total fertility rate[10] of these new Israeli citizens increased, reaching 1.72 children per woman (compared to 2.66 for native-born Israelis), presumably due to their successful absorption into the larger society as well as a continued influx of others from the former Soviet Union along with Ethiopian immigrants during the 1980s and 1990s. Beginning in 1996, the natural increase rate of Israeli Jews has trended upward, rising to 1.5 percent in 2010, increasing by 25.2 percent in one decade.[11] The same natural increase rate of Israeli Jews was also maintained in 2011 and 2012.[12]

At the same time, the trend for Israeli Arabs has moved in the opposite direction. Having reached a peak of 4.41 percent in 1964[13]—a figure significantly higher than that of the rest of the Arab world —the natural increase rate of the Israeli Arabs declined by 37.2 percent from 1964 to 1987.[14] Furthermore, while the natural increase rate 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 in 2012 at its lowest level since 1955.

The main reason for such decline is the rapid decrease in Arab birth rates from 36.4 births per 1,000 in 1998 to 24.7 births in 2012. While the Arab mortality rate also dropped from 3.37 deaths per 1,000 in 1995 to 2.69 in 2010, it has risen to 2.78 deaths per 1,000 in 2012.

Population Age Structure

These demographic developments have an impact on the proportion of Israeli Jews versus Israeli Arabs. As a result of declining fertility, significant changes in the age structure of the Israeli Arab population have taken place during the past fifteen years.

For example, in 2000, the number of Israeli Arabs born was 39,579 (including 34,667 Muslims).[15] By 2012, the number of Israeli Arab newborns was 40,080 (35,730 Muslim).[16] The number of children born within the Jewish population rose from 90,900 in 2000 to 125,492 in 2012 and in the expanded Jewish population, which includes Jews, any population not classified by religion, and non-Arab Christians, from 94,327 to 130,460 in 2012. Thus the share of babies born to Jews increased from 67.9 percent in 2000 to 73.6 percent and of expanded Jewish population from 70.4 percent to 76.5 percent in 2012.

Taking a broader view, the number of Jewish children in the 0-4 age cohort rose by 26.7 percent while that of Arab children in this group rose by a mere 1.9 percent.[17] Thus, the share of Jewish toddlers within the general population increased from 68.2 to 72.8 percent and of the expanded Jewish population from 70.7 to 75.6 percent in 2012.

The shape of the age structure presented in Figure 3 clearly shows that the younger the age, the more the number of Jews increases while the number of Arabs either decreases or remains stable.

While in 2012 there were 81,600 21-year-old Jews (86,300 expanded Jewish population), their number steadily and continuously grew for the younger ages: 125,492 Jewish babies (130,460 for expanded Jewish population) born in 2012. By contrast, there were 31,100 21-year-old Arabs and 40,080 newly born Arabs in 2012—a smaller relative increase than their Jewish counterparts.

There were 98,100 Jews (or 2.38 per every Arab) at the age of “9” when the Arab population reached its peak for all ages—41,300 people. When checking this proportion of each age group down to age “0”, this ratio continuously increases, up to 3.13 Jews for every Arab at the “age 0” group.

The share of Jews among the “0” age group reached 73.6 percent compared to the lowest share of 67.4 percent at the age of “11.” The expanded Jewish population among age group “0” reached 76.5 percent (compared to the 70.4 percent at the age of “11”), or 3.25 children for every Arab child. Such developments started influencing the Israeli education system because the share of Hebrew education pupils among all pupils in the first grade began increasing in the 2008-09 school year. Taking into account the numbers of babies born in 2012, there will be at least 76.5 percent Hebrew-education first-grade pupils in the 2018-19 school year. The addition of the children of new immigrants (olim) will enhance this proportion still further.

Another way to look at the population dynamics of the two groups is to examine the other end of the aging spectrum. Israel’s Jewish population share of the 65+ age group was 88.5 percent (91.8 percent for expanded Jewish population) in 2012 versus 8.2 percent for the Arabs. Taking into consideration that the 45-75 age group of 2012 will belong to the 65+ age group of 2032, the share of the Jews in this age group would diminish to 81.7 percent (86.5 percent for expanded Jewish population), while the share of Arabs would increase to 13.5 percent, 64.8 percent larger than it was in 2012. The share of the Israeli Muslims at the 65+ age group will increase even more drastically, by 75.5 percent, from 6 percent in 2012 to 10.5 percent in 2032. In other words, during the last ten years, the share of Israeli Jews versus Israeli Arabs within the overall young Israeli population has increased, indicating that the Jewish population has started to become younger while the Israeli Arab population is getting older. With existing life expectancies factored in, the natural aging of Israeli Arab “baby boomers” will significantly increase their mortality level over the next two decades, causing an accelerating decline in the overall Arab natural increase rate.

Continuation of current trends will result in a convergence in 2025 of the natural increase rate for Jews and Arabs in Israel. For the first time in the modern history of the Land of Israel, the Arab natural increase rate may not be higher but rather equal to the natural increase rate of the Jews. Given the possibility of continued Jewish immigration, one can expect an intensification of the steadily rising Jewish share of the total population of the Land of Israel.

This trend becomes even more pronounced when studying the population of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, which until recently had been under Israeli administration and is now either part of the Palestinian Authority—dominated by the Palestine Liberation Organization—or a quasi-independent Hamas enclave.

Under the Israeli administration (1967-93), the natural increase rate of the Arabs of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza Strip rose markedly from 2.52 percent in 1965 to peak at 4.21 percent in 1989.[18] However, over the next two decades, it declined noticeably to 2.88 percent in 2012. [19] It appears that the decline in the Palestinian natural increase rate in Judea and Samaria is accelerating even faster than among Israeli Arabs.

Combined with a massive emigration of Arab youth from these territories, especially from Judea and Samaria, the size of the younger age group will be reduced and coincidentally, the elderly age cohort of the population will increase, resulting in an increased mortality rate in the near future. Following these trends, the natural increase rate of Arabs in Judea and Samaria will be decreasing even faster.

Migration Balance and Population Annual Growth

Any proper analysis of demographic developments in the Land of Israel must take into account the critical role of the migration balance. Aliya—Jewish repatriation—has been a significant factor in narrowing the difference between Jewish and Arab natural increase rates. For example, while in 1990, the natural increase rate for Jews was equal to only 1.29 percent, their annual growth, due to immigration, was 6.18 percent, more than twice as high as the Arab natural increase for that year.

 

From 2008 to 2011, Jewish immigration to Israel rose 30 percent.[20] An analysis of immigration patterns reveals some surprising data about the countries of origin of these émigrés and points to future developments with important consequences.

 

In 2010, Israel ranked 15 out of 169 on the Human Development Index (HDI)—a comparative measure used to rank countries by life expectancy, education levels, and standard of living.[21] While about a million and a quarter Jews live in twenty countries with an HDI lower than Israel, another eight countries with significant Jewish populations (about 6,500,000) have a higher HDI than Israel.[22]

 

In 2000-10, 284,907 new immigrants moved to Israel alongside 44,639 returning expatriates.[23] Not surprisingly, about 87 percent of the newcomers came from countries with an HDI lower than Israel’s—59.4 percent of all repatriates came from the former Soviet Union, 10.2 percent from Ethiopia, and 4.1 percent from Argentina.[24] Only 13.5 percent came from countries with a higher HDI such as the United States or France. Yet in the first ten months of 2011, the largest growth of repatriation to Israel (compared to the previous decade) came from countries with a higher HDI: Their share of the total immigrant population more than doubled. Twenty-nine percent of these immigrants came from eight developed countries, 14.6 percent from the United States and 10.3 percent from France.

 

It may very well be that a combination of factors contributed to this change. The recent world economic crisis may be one. According to Reuters: “Employees of universities and researchers are among the biggest sufferers of economic slowdown in the United States … As a result, universities are cutting their budgets and staff, and many researchers are going home.”[25]

 

The other likely contributor is a rising wave of anti-Semitism, especially in Western Europe. According to Benjamin Jacobs, Holland’s chief rabbi, “the future for Dutch Jewry is moving to Israel.”[26] Relentless harassment in the south Swedish city of Malmö has driven most of its Jewish population out of the city, or even the country.[27] Recent years also have seen increasing numbers of Jews moving to Israel from France and the United Kingdom. There have been reports of Muslims assaulting Jews in Norway and Denmark and stone-tossing Arabs driving Jewish dancers from a stage in Germany.[28] A recent poll found that 38 percent of Muslim youth in Austria agree that “Hitler had done a lot of good for the people.”[29]

 

A spring 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Pew Global Attitudes Project finds

 

46% of the Spanish rating Jews unfavorably. More than a third of Russians (34%) and Poles (36%) echo this view. Somewhat fewer, but still significant numbers of the Germans (25%) and French (20%) interviewed also express negative opinions of Jews. These percentages are all higher than obtained in comparable Pew surveys taken in recent years. In a number of countries, the increase has been especially notable between 2006 and 2008.[30]

 

This situation has brought increasing numbers of Jews to Israel. According to data from 2012 published by the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the majority of olim continued to come from Europe (10,088, 49.4 percent of all immigrants), and the numbers rose by 30 percent in 2008-12.

 

The immigration from France with 1,923 individuals (9.4 percent of all immigrants) in 2012 remained steadily in third place from Europe after Russia (3,566, 17.5 percent of all immigrants) and Ukraine (2,100, 10.3 percent). Former USSR countries accounted for 35.9 percent of all immigrants to Israel in 2012. From 2008 through 2012, repatriation from Russia rose by 32.4 percent and from Ukraine even more by 58.9 percent.

 

A significant number of immigrants came from the United Kingdom (641, 3.1 percent). Repatriation from Scandinavian countries rose by 65.8 percent and from Italy by 161.9 percent; the increase from Holland was 22.2 percent and from Belgium, 24.6 percent. However, the most impressive growth of immigration during these four years came from Spain, by 232.1 percent.[31]

 

If these conditions persist, Israel may experience a substantial aliya wave into the near future, including an influx of skilled professionals, a welcome addition to Israel’s fast developing economy. The recent discoveries of huge gas deposits create an enormous momentum for the Israeli economy that is bound to change the geopolitical situation in the Middle East.

 

Many Israeli expatriates may also seriously consider returning to the Jewish state. During the years 2000-10, the number of returning Israelis was 21.3 percent higher than the previous decade. These developments would lead to a further increase in the annual growth of the Jewish population.

 

Of equal importance are emigration trends of the Arab population that began long before the 1967 Six-Day War. Demographer Justin McCarthy has estimated that about 200,000 Arabs emigrated from Judea and Samaria between 1949 and 1967. “After 1948, Palestinian high fertility and the limited economic potential of the land led to out-migration. The West Bank, in particular, had sizable out-migration from 1948 to 1967… emigration was now large-scale and directed mainly to the Arab world.” Migration rates from Gaza were much lower because until the 1960s, the Egyptian government, which controlled the territory, restricted emigration.[32]

 

According to Mustafa Khawaja, director of the Jerusalem Statistical Department of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS): “The net balance of arrivals and departures for the West Bank in the period 1967 to the present has been consistently negative, with an average of about 10,000 leaving annually … The main reason for migration by Palestinians relates to the economic factors resulting from the political instability and the infighting between the Palestinian parties.”[33] This view is supported by journalist Khaled Abu Toameh who wrote in August 2002:

 

Approximately 80,000 Palestinians have left the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the year (a rise of 50 percent compared to last year), a senior Palestinian Authority official said Monday. The official … told The Jerusalem Post another 50,000 Palestinians are now trying to leave through the Jordan River bridges and the Rafah border crossing [between Gaza and Egypt].[34]

 

Two years later, Egyptian journalist Bissan Edwan stated that “according to Jordan[ian] statistics, at least 150,000 Palestinians left the West Bank during the intifada years from 2000 to 2002 and did not return,” concluding that the economic situation in the Palestinian Authority territories could lead to new waves of emigration. She also dismissed the myth of a demographic time-bomb by noting that net Jewish migration offset the higher Palestinian natural increase and that better access to birth control lowered Palestinian fertility rates.[35] The impact of out-migration was further reinforced by a 2006 poll published by An-Najah University in Nablus, which found that “one in three Palestinians wanted to emigrate. The 1,350 people surveyed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip cited dire economic conditions as the first reason, followed by lawlessness, political deadlock, and fears of civil war.”[36]

 

Arab emigration from Judea and Samaria increased even more in 2007-09. During the first seven months of 2008, the Jordanian-Palestinian border-crossing point located near the Karame bridge registered a negative migration balance of 63,386 people while in the first eight months of 2009, there was reported a negative migration balance of 44,000 people.[37]

 

World Bank figures also indicated a decrease in the size of the Palestinian population, by 0.45 percent in 2009 and by 0.37 percent in 2010.[38] Thus, in 2009-10, the negative migration balance was higher than the natural increase of the Arab population in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip.

 

Population Projections for the Land of Israel

 

It is a well-documented fact that Palestinian population figures as well as Palestinian-supplied growth projections are seriously flawed, rife with double-counting, presumed (and unsubstantiated) mass immigration, inflated birth numbers, and deaths not counted.[39] Considering those issues alongside the emigration trends should lead policymakers in Israel and abroad to a more nuanced view of demographic projections and decisions based upon them.

 

Consider the PCBS’ 2001 annual Statistical Abstract of Palestine.[40] According to its projection, the Arab population in the Palestinian-administered territories would amount to 4,077,981 people in 2005, then increase to 5,027,580 in 2010, to 5,354,988 in 2012, and finally to 6,632,439 in 2020. In fact, at the end of 2005, the actual PCBS population estimate was lower by 315,976 persons than the PCBS projection published just four years earlier.[41]

 

In December 2006, the PCBS proclaimed that the “Palestinian population and the Jewish population [east of the Jordan river] will be equal in 2010 … the Palestinian population will increase to 5.7 million in mid-2010.”[42] The reality was different: At the end of 2010, the PCBS issued a press release claiming that there were actually 4,108,631 Arabs in Palestinian-administered territories,[43] 918,949 less than it had projected in 2001. Similarly, a PCBS press release on December 31, 2012, estimated the Arab population at 4.4 million,[44] a number smaller by 955,000 than it had previously predicted.

 

The recent PCBS projection made at the end of 2012 stated that “the number of Palestinians in historical Palestine will total 7.2 million compared to 6.9 million Jews by the end of 2020.”[45] According to the recent Israel Central Bureau of Statistics projection, there will be about 1.9 million Israeli Arabs in 2020. Reducing this figure from the PCBS projection for all Arab population in historical Palestine in 2020 gives 5.3 million Arabs in Palestinian-administered territories. This estimate is 1,362,439 less than projected by PCBS in 2001.

 

But projections from Palestinian sources are not the only forecasts that need to be adjusted. In October 2007, this author prepared a demographic projection of the Israeli population based on observable trends since the founding of the Jewish state.[46] The resulting numbers, 12,805,000 persons in 2050, fell somewhere between two U.N. population projections—11,942,000 using the high forecast variant and 13,064,000 using the constant fertility rate variant.[47]

 

The author’s projection was based on certain assumptions: That just as in each of the last 120 years, the annual growth of the Jewish population would consist of natural increase as well as immigration. Some of the predictions, however, proved to be far more conservative than what actually transpired. For example, in 2003-10, average annual growth was 14.7 percent higher than originally estimated.[48] The 2007 report had also predicted that the natural increase rate of the Arab citizens of Israel would continue diminishing in the future. In fact, the natural increase rate of Israeli Arabs was 2.2 percent in 2012, 21.1 percent lower than assumed in 2007. In sum, based on the new data, the share of the Jewish population in Israel is expected to decrease to its lowest point of 79.2 percent in 2015, but starting in 2024 may begin to rise up to 81.8 percent of the total population in 2050 and to 83.2 percent by 2059.

 

Further, it is reasonable to conclude that an existing trend of growing natural increase in the Jewish non-ultra-Orthodox population will continue. This will likely be augmented by a positive migration balance since the majority of Jews living in the Diaspora are not ultra-Orthodox (Haredim).[49]

 

There were apparently no Haredim among the immigrants from the former Soviet Union and just 4.5 percent of these declared themselves as religious. There were only 7.2 percent of Haredim and 14.8 percent of religious people among immigrants from Europe and the United States. Just 3.1 percent of immigrants from Asia and Africa declared themselves as Haredi and 26.4 percent declared themselves as religious. All in all, the Haredi share of 2012 immigrants could be estimated at 3.6 percent and of religious people at 10.4 percent.

 

This would be accompanied by an accelerating decline in the natural increase among the Haredi population. According to the ICBS, the total fertility rate (TFR) of the Haredim has declined by 14.3 percent in just six years from 7.62 children per woman in 2003 to 6.53 children per woman in 2009, back to the level that existed twenty-five years before in the middle of the 1980s.[50] At the same time, the TFR of secular women rose by 8.9 percent from 1.90 children per woman in 2003 to 2.07 in 2009.

 

Likewise, from the beginning of the twenty-first century the TFR of Israeli Muslims decreased considerably, from 4.7 in 2000 to 3.5 children per woman in 2011.[51] The TFR of all Arabs decreased still further to 3.3 children per woman, very close to the 3.09 for Jews born in Israel.[52] In November 2011, a new comprehensive ICBS projection was published in which the government office admitted that in the past it had overestimated Israeli Arab fertility and underestimated Jewish fertility.[53]

 

An updated version of the author’s 2007 projections for the population of the State of Israel (extended from 2050 to 2059) appears in Figure 6. The numbers are presented side by side with the ICBS’s second and third scenario projections.

 

According to the author’s forecast prepared in 2007, the Arab population in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza Strip would reach 2,496,000 in 2050. Extending the forecast for nine more years, this population could reach 2,761,500 people. Combined with the estimated population of the State of Israel, the total population of the Land of Israel would comprise some 19,487,000 people in 2059.

 

Based on these estimates, the expanded Jewish population share would be 83.19 percent of the population of the State of Israel and 71.4 percent of the total population of the Land of Israel in 2059.

Conclusions

Population growth for the Land of Israel at the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century will be influenced by the Arab and Jewish natural increase rates reaching a convergence point based on similar live birth and mortality rates. It will also likely be influenced by continued Jewish immigration, including a new, possibly strong wave in the near future following the prolonged world economic crisis and manifestations of rising anti-Semitism around the globe. Repatriation will also be encouraged if the Israeli economy continues to be strong in the near future, an increased likelihood based in part on the huge gas and shale oil fields recently discovered in Israel. The share of Jews in the total population of the Land of Israel may also increase as a result of continued Arab emigration that may include Israeli Arabs as well. According to the results of the first-ever survey on political-social attitudes of Arab youth in Israel, conducted by the Baladna Association for Arab Youth and the Mada al-Carmel Arab Center for Applied Social Research, both in Haifa, 25 percent of the Arab youth in Israel want to emigrate.[54]

Every country has a natural and objective carrying capacity limit for the population living on its territory and, in this respect, Israel is no different than any other. With that in mind, demographic projections can and should be used as a tool for planning by the state as well as by municipalities to avoid mistakes that can damage vital infrastructure and public services, such as health, education, and welfare systems. Ignoring the impressive demographic changes of the last twenty years in Israel has produced heavy burdens on Israel’s health system due to a lack of hospital beds and a scarcity of medical personnel.[55] Overpopulated classrooms and a lack of qualified teachers is another such consequence.[56] Similarly, lower than necessary construction starts in the residential sector is causing pain for young couples.[57]

Developing proper demographic policies can be important tools for planning national security needs to assure internal order and the security of the state’s borders. Jerusalem must bear in mind that without developing such a professional, comprehensive, and long-term demographic policy, it will be very difficult to reach the vital goals of assuring a stable and secure future for generations to come.

Yakov Faitelson is the author of Demographic Trends in the Land of Israel, 1800-2007 (Israeli Institute for Zionist Strategies, 2008).

[1] NBC News, Sept. 23, 2010.
[2] Dan Petreanu, “Demography: Men or Myth,” The Jerusalem Post, Aug. 16, 1988, quoted in Yakov Faitelson, “‘Demography: Men or Myth‘ – 24 years later,” Apr. 4, 2012.
[3] The Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2013.
[4] The term “Land of Israel” is used here to denote the areas of Mandatory Palestine west of the Jordan River, namely, the territories constituting the State of Israel as well as Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) and the Gaza Strip.
[5]Annual Growth Rate Percent, Near East Countries, U.N. Regions,” U.S. Census Bureau, International Programs, International Data Base, accessed Mar. 12, 2013.
[6] Dominique Tabutin and Bruno Schoumaker, “The Demography of the Arab World and the Middle East from 1950 to the 2000s. A Survey of Changes and a Statistical Assessment,” Population, 2005/5-6, Institute de démographie, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, pp. 505-615.
[7] “Table 13: Jewish Population, by Sex and Age (1948, 1951, 1954, 1956),” Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 1956 (Jerusalem and Tel Aviv: Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, [hereafter ICBS], 1956), p. 19; “Table B/13: Jewish Population, by Sex and Age (1948-1965),” Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 1966 (ICBS, 1966), p. 38.
[8]Table B/1: Population, by Population Group,” Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, May 2013 (ICBS, June 6, 2013), p. 4.
[9] Petra Nahmias, “Fertility behaviour of recent immigrants to Israel: A comparative analysis of immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union,” Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Mar. 17, 2004, pp. 83-120.
[10] The average number of children that would be born alive to a woman during her lifetime.
[11] Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 2002 (ICBS, 2002), st3.02; Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 2001 (ICBS, 2001), st3.01.
[12] Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 2012 (ICBS, 2012), st3.01; “C. Vital Statistics,” Monthly Bulletin of Statistics-February 2013 (ICBS, Mar. 7, 2013).
[13] “Statistic Tables for Live and Death Rates by Population Group,” Yearbook of Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 1955-2010 (ICBS, 2010).
[14]World Development Indicators: Birth Rate, Crude,” World Bank, Washington, D.C., accessed Mar. 7, 2013; “World Development Indicators: Death Rate, Crude,” idem, accessed Mar. 7, 2013.
[15] Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 2001, st2.18.
[16]C. Vital Statistics,” Monthly Bulletin of Statistics-February 2013.
[17] Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 2001, st02.20; Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 2011 (ICBS, 2011), st02.21.
[18] “Demographic Characteristics of the Arab Population in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, 1968-1993, #1025,” ICBS, July 1996, p. 15.
[19]World Development Indicators: Birth Rate, Crude,” World Bank, Washington, D.C., accessed Mar. 7, 2013; “World Development Indicators: Death Rate, Crude,” idem, accessed Mar. 7, 2013.
[20] “Emigration and Tourism, Table E/2: Immigrants by Type of Permit,” Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, ICBS, no. 11/2011, p. 143.
[21]Table 1: Human Development Index and Its Components,” Human Development Report 2010, U.N. Development Programme, New York, p. 143.
[22] Sergio DellaPergola, Jewish Demographic Policies: Population Trends and Options in Israel and in the Diaspora (Jerusalem: The Jewish People Policy Institute, 2011), p. 61.
[23] “Immigrants by Type of Visa,” Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 2011, st04.03.
[24] “Immigrants, by Period of Immigration, Country of Birth and Last Country of Residence,” Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 2011, st04.04.
[25] Ynet News (Tel Aviv), Jan. 22, 2012.
[26] “Interview with Holland’s Chief Rabbi: Dutch Anti-Semitism,” Arutz Sheva (Beit El and Petah Tikva), July 4, 2010.
[27] YNet News, May 21, 2013.
[28] Fox News, June 24, 2010.
[29] David J. Rusin, “The Slow-Motion Exodus of European Jews,” FrontPage Magazine (Sherman Oaks, Calif.), Jan. 7, 2011.
[30]Unfavorable Views of Jews and Muslims on the Increase in Europe,” PEW Research Center Project, Sept. 17, 2008.
[31]Statistics,” Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, Tel Aviv, accessed June 17, 2013.
[32] Justin McCarthy, “Palestine’s Population during the Ottoman and the British Mandate Periods: Migration,” PalestineRemembered.com, Sept. 8, 2001.
[33] Mustafa Khawaja, “Highly-skilled into, through and from the southern and eastern Mediterranean and sub Saharan Africa. The Case of Palestine,” Robert Shuman Centre for Advanced Studies and the European University Institute, San Domenico di Fiesole, Italy, 2010, p. 8.
[34] The Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26, 2002.
[35] Bissan Edwan, “al-Qanbala ad-Dymoghrafiah fi Israil wa-Khidaal-Nafs,” Apr. 16, 2004.
[36] Reuters, Nov. 22, 2006.
[37] Khawaja, “The Case of Palestine,” p. 3.
[38] “Population Growth (annual %): West Bank and Gaza,” World Bank, Washington, D.C., accessed June 7, 2013.
[39] Bennet Zimmerman, Roberta Seid, and Michael L. Wise, “The Million Person Gap. The Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza,” Mideast Security and Policy Studies, no. 65, The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Feb. 2006.
[40] “Palestinians in the Palestinian Territory (West Bank and Gaza Strip): 3.2 Population,” Statistical Abstract of Palestine, No. 2, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (hereafter, PCBS), Ramallah; “Table 3.2.1: Projected Population in the Palestinian Territory in the End Year by Region, 1997-2024,” PCBS, Nov. 2001, p. 470.
[41] Annual Report for 2005, Population and Demography, Health Status in Palestine 2005 (Ramallah: Ministry of Health-Palestinian Health Information Center, Oct. 2006), p. 1.
[42] “Palestinians at the End of Year 2006,” PCBS, Dec. 2006, p. 11.
[43] “Palestinians at the End of 2010: Table 2: Estimated Number of Palestinians in the Palestinian Territory by Status and Region,” PCBS, Dec. 30, 2010, p. 34.
[44] “Palestinians at the End of 2012,” PCBS, Dec. 2012, p. 1.
[45] Ibid., p. 3.
[46] Yakov Faitelson, “The Demographic Forecasts for the Population of the Land of Israel and the Reality (1898-2005),” Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual International Conference on Jewish Studies, Part 1: State of Israel, 60 Years of History (Moscow: Moscow Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization “Sefer,” Institute for Slavic Studies, 2008), p. 68; idem, “Demographic Trends in the Land of Israel (1800-2007), accessed Mar. 7, 2013, p. 47-70; idem, Table 1: Comparison of Forecasts for Citizens of the State of Israel up until 2050, “Demographic Forecast Scenarios until 2050,” The Institute for Zionist Strategies, Jerusalem, 2008.
[47] High-fertility assumption: Under the high variant, fertility is projected to remain .5 children above the fertility in the medium variant over most of the projection period. That is, countries reaching a total fertility of 1.85 children per woman in the medium variant have a total fertility of 2.35 children per woman in the high variant at the end of the projection period. Constant-fertility assumption: fertility remains constant at the level estimated for 2000-05.
[48] Faitelson, “Demographic Trends in the Land of Israel (1800-2007),” accessed Mar. 7, 2013, p. 50-3.
[49] According to a comprehensive survey conducted by the ICBS in 2009, 8 percent of Israeli Jews defined themselves as Haredi, 12 percent as religious, 13 percent as traditional religious, 25 percent as less traditional religious, 27 percent as not so religious, and 18 percent as nonreligious. See Seker hevrati 2009. Pirsum mispar 1433. B. mimtsaim ikariim. a. datiyut umeafienim demografiim uhevratiim kalkaliim beisrael (bnei 20 umala), ICBS Social Survey 2009, no. 1433, Jerusalem, Apr. 2011, p. 13.
[50] Ahmad Hleihel, “Fertility among Jewish and Muslim Women in Israel by Level of Religiosity, 1979-2009,” ICBS, Working Paper Series, no. 60, June 2011, pp. 32-4.
[51] Ibid., p. 15; “Fertility rates, Average Age of Mother and Sex Ratio at Birth, by selected characteristics of the mother. Muslims. 2011,” Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 2011, Table 3.14.
[52] “Fertility rates, Average Age of Mother and Sex Ratio at Birth, by selected characteristics of the mother. Israeli born. 2011,” Statistical Abstracts of Israel, 2011, Table 3.14.
[53] Ari Paltiel, Michell Spulker, Irene Kornilenko, and Martin Maldonado, “Tahaziot Haukhlusiyah le-Yisrael Letvah Arokh: 2009-2059,” Demography and Census Dept., Jerusalem, Nov. 30, 2011.
[54] Ynet News, Apr. 22, 2004.
[55]The Physician Shortage in Israel,” Israeli Medical Association, Tel Aviv, May 2011.
[56] Karen L. Berman, “Israel Must Overhaul Education System,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Mar. 29, 2012.
[57] Ron Diller, “What happened to affordable housing in Israel?” The Jerusalem Post, May 8, 2010.

 

Middle East

The current economic crisis in Egypt and the attempts to drag the Egyptian army into a war against Iran

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The United States of America is trying to force Egypt to enter into a regional war against Iran for the benefit of the countries of the Arab Gulf region and Tel Aviv. Hence, the United States of America and its other partners in the international monetary and financial institutions are putting pressure on Cairo in this regard, through the arbitrary policies of the International Monetary Fund and its major shareholders.  And on top of them: the United States of America, Britain, France and Germany, as an attempt to oblige Cairo to agree with them to confront Iran, and with Egypt having to resort to the International Monetary Fund for the fourth time since 2016, after that game of American, Israeli and Western intelligence in confronting the Egyptian army to force it to confront Iran, after the game of withdrawing a number of major international investors from the country for purely intelligence, political and military reasons in favor of the goal of confrontation.  with the Tehran regime.  This coincided with the practice of Washington and the Western powers, through their arms in Cairo, of several artificial economic crises, such as the shortage of foreign currency in the Egyptian market, the weakness of the Egyptian pound, the rise in inflation rates, and others.

  For its part, the United States is trying to gather more allies in its war against Iran.  In this regard, it is trying to persuade the European Union to join its alliance in the war against Tehran.  Perhaps the big gap in the front of the United States of America remains the European Union, through which the Iranian regime wants to penetrate in order to weaken the American and Israeli position that is motivated and mobilized towards the danger of war.  Perhaps because of the refusal of the countries of the European Union and the countries of the NATO military alliance to bow to the American and Israeli demands to enter into direct military confrontations against Iran, it was the main direct reason for the threat of former US President “Trump” to expel the United States from NATO membership and to keep Europe alone in front of the Russian threat, which might force the countries of the European Union, from the point of view of “Trump”, at the time to modify the views of the countries of the European Union and the countries of the NATO military alliance.

  From my analytical point of view, what is happening in the region in terms of the American and Israeli attempt to mobilize against Iran with Gulf support, and the attempt to drag the Egyptian army to fight without its direct interest at the present time to confront mainly with Tehran, is a war with different faces and multiple players, but Iran remains the field.  The main conflict is in a war fueled by central banks, the economic structure, oil, banking and trade at all levels.

  On the other hand, the options available to Iran seem limited to confront the specter of the American-Israeli-Gulf war in confronting it, in addition to the ongoing economic war and the growing threats against it. The options against Tehran appear to be all accompanied by risks and risks.  Internally, Iran has to convince its people to bear the policy of austerity, and externally, the Iranian regime is counting on the support of China, Russia, and the armed militias that support it in the countries of the region, perhaps to threaten through it to ignite the situation throughout the region and hint at the danger of the straits and sea lanes in the Red Sea. On top of them are the Straits of Bab al-Mandab and Hormuz and the Gulf of Aden.  This may make the situation more complicated for America, Israel and their other allies in the event of entering into any uncalculated military confrontations with Iran, which Egypt and President El-Sisi are well aware of the enormity of engaging in any potential clashes with the Tehran regime.

  The point of view of Egyptian President “Abdel Fattah El-Sisi”, as a former military intelligence man, and the Egyptian army, and their response to any attempts to enter into military confrontations with Tehran and try to convince the Arab Gulf states of that, is (the cost of war), in the sense of what the countries of the entire Gulf region and the region will incur by waging a similar war.  guerrilla warfare and armed militias.  As the issue of establishing and supporting armed militias in the countries of the region has become something that everyone knows and does not need proof.  And the matter is not limited to Shiite militias backed by Iran, such as: (Lebanese Hezbollah, and the Houthis in Yemen), but Iran will also find, in the event that America, Israel and the Gulf enter military confrontations with it, great and direct support from Al-Qaeda and the nearby Taliban movement in Afghanistan.  Borders with Tehran, and there are reports indicating the Iranian regime’s complicity with the terrorist organization of “ISIS”, and all of these organizations will be used once in the event of a military confrontation with Iran, and Iran will inevitably resort to re-enriching uranium very quickly and developing ballistic weapons and missiles to confront the imminent war.  The entire Gulf and region will be destroyed, as well as the movement of the straits and sea lanes will be affected and the entire international trade movement will be paralyzed, and the security of Egypt, the region and the Suez Canal will be affected, which will disrupt the global trade movement.

 And in light of the outbreak of any war against Iran, the Iranian decision-maker will be forced here to resort to and use these militias and armed groups, as a pressure card on neighboring countries, the United States of America and the Gulf. Based on this option, it is likely that the pace of terrorist operations will increase in the countries of the region in the coming period of time. This is clearly understood by President El-Sisi and the Egyptian army, so he distances himself from entering into any confrontations or clashes with Iran, not to push for the complete destruction of the region in favor of Israel in the first place, as it is the only beneficiary of that war, to spread chaos and unrest throughout the region, including the Gulf countries and Arab supporter of the war against Iran.

 Perhaps that economic crisis fabricated by the West in the face of Egypt, its indirect result was that American and Western call through their monetary institutions, of the need to restore foreign direct investment as a real way out of the current crisis after the flight of investments estimated at about 20 billion dollars from investment in the Egyptian debt, according to intelligence reasons. Purely, as I mentioned in my analysis, because of the attempt of the extreme right and hardliners in Israel to enter into direct military confrontations with Iran with the generous support of the Gulf countries, and their attempt to drag the Egyptian army and involve it by force to defend Tel Aviv’s malicious dreams of bringing Cairo into serious military confrontations with the Tehran regime.  Perhaps this is what the International Monetary Fund declared explicitly in favor of Washington mainly and in support of Tel Aviv’s hard-right policies, by announcing that Egypt will be affected by the global repercussions of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with a funding gap of $17 billion over the coming years. This is the same as what “Ivana Hollar”, head of the International Monetary Fund’s mission to Egypt, declared:

 “The reform program of the authorities in Egypt must give a greater role to the private sector, which is urgent, and it is very important that the state ownership policy be approved at the highest levels,  including by the president”

  This is what Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi understood with the mentality of a military intelligence man, as a former head of the Military Intelligence Service in Egypt, by trying to exert maximum American and Israeli pressure on Cairo in order to enter into a confrontation with unsafe consequences to confront Iran, by giving “El-Sisi” his orders to form a “crisis committee”, to follow the situation on a weekly basis as soon as the Russian invasion of Ukraine begins, as well as current events. President El-Sisi also instructed the army to provide food commodities to citizens, after President Putin’s war against Ukraine caused the largest global food crisis, if we add to it those reprehensible American and Israeli attempts to force the Egyptian army to enter into direct military confrontations with Tehran. Perhaps this was one of the main reasons, from my analytical point of view and my reading of the general political and economic scene in Egypt, behind those tours that Egyptian President “El-Sisi” made in the Arab Gulf region, specifically those presidential tours to (Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Qatar).

   Then, the Egyptian government, represented by the “Egyptian Council of Ministers”, issued an official report issued, based on directives and presidential orders from President El-Sisi to address the Egyptian people, in a framework of transparency to address in this report the most important issues related to the general economic situation in the Egyptian state during the year 2022. Specifically, and in the context of the official report issued by the Egyptian Council of Ministers, 17 main claims and allegations were answered, in terms of (the size of the external debt, the state’s general budget, the exchange rate, the state’s credit rating, as well as the feasibility of national projects, the terms of the Monetary Fund loan, and the rise in prices.  Crisis in the situation in banks), and other issues that occupied the Egyptian street during the last period.

 This brings us to the general political scene in Tel Aviv, and that successive Israeli pressure on the regimes of the Arab Gulf states for a possible and imminent attack on Iran, and perhaps that is the main reason for the use of an Israeli extreme right-wing government at the present time, which facilitated the Israeli Prime Minister “Benjamin Netanyahu” to form an alliance that is the largest of its kind in the history of Tel Aviv is the far-right parties and the religious extremists, who are pushing for the inevitable confrontation with the Tehran regime to protect the interests of Tel Aviv.

 Where the Israeli hard-right, led by Israeli Prime Minister “Benjamin Netanyahu”, raises many slogans in the direction of war against Iran, including: preserving the security of the region, assisting the Gulf countries that have signed peace agreements with Israel and others, such as the UAE and Bahrain, and indirect support for Saudi Arabia in the wake of  these multiple Houthi attacks on Saudi oil facilities, and the Iranian-backed Houthi militias targeting Saudi Aramco facilities in the Red Sea, which Iran denied, in addition to the “Netanyahu” government’s promotion in Israel towards war among most segments of Israeli society, under many and varied allegations, such as: stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and promoting that this has become one of Israel’s most important priorities in its foreign policy.

 In the event of a confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah, the turmoil emanating from Syria and the control of ISIS, which has swept the greater part of the region, will reach directly to the Egyptian border.  This particular development was raised by President El-Sisi in an official and popular public speech to him, emphasizing:

 “We do not need additional complications related to Iran and Hezbollah”, adding: “I am against war, as crises can be resolved through dialogue”

  This confirms the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s endeavor to avoid the region witnessing any tensions, especially between the Arab Gulf and Iran, or witnessing further escalation with the help of Washington and Tel Aviv. Egyptian President “Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi” left no doubts about his position, assuring that:

 “The Middle East does not need security in the Gulf, which constitutes a red line. We believe in Egypt that any threat to the Gulf states also affects our national security”, with President El-Sisi acknowledging in several official speeches to him, that:

“Security in the Gulf constitutes a red line, and we believe in Egypt that any threat to the Gulf states also affects our national security”

 Tel Aviv, along with Washington, has also become involved in promoting between the countries of the region and the Gulf, primarily about the feasibility of a military war against Iran, and exporting a file for Israel’s fear of Iran’s interference in countries close to its borders, with leaks that Tehran has supplied a group of ballistic missiles and precision ammunition to its proxies in “Hezbollah group” in Lebanon and in Syria as well. Therefore, Israel announces its fear of the nuclear agenda to produce nuclear weapons for Iran and the equipment that carries it as a threat to the security and safety of the entire region and the Gulf in particular as an ally of the Tel Aviv regime through normalization and peace agreements with it. Hence, the attempts of Israeli intelligence and its Mossad apparatus to strike a number of nuclear reactors in the Iranian city of Isfahan are attempts that the Israelis are promoting internally, regionally and internationally, as a “part of Israel’s attempts to strike Iranian capabilities and prevent them from supporting their proxy groups in the region”

 The fundamental question remains here, when talking about how all regional and international parties view the extent of support that China and Russia can provide to the Iranian regime in the event of war with Israel and the Gulf, with direct US-Western support?  The answer to this question will make us analyze the reasons for Washington’s efforts to curry favor with the political system in Egypt in the first place, through the visit of US Secretary of State “Anthony Blinken” to Cairo and then his departure to Tel Aviv as part of the American game of moves and probing the pulse of Egypt and the countries of the region.  Perhaps relying on Chinese and Russian support for Iran will be one of the strongest cards that the Iranians bet on, especially given the existence of vital and necessary Egyptian and Gulf interests with the Chinese and Russians in the first place. This is what China stated directly, that it is likely to continue buying Iranian oil after the conclusion of the second phase of sanctions against Tehran in November 2018.  “Mohsen Karimi”, as deputy governor of the Central Bank of Iran, confirmed in official statements published to him in the Persian media on Monday, January 30, 2023, that (Iran and Russia) have linked the communication and transfer systems of their banks to each other, to help promote commercial and financial transactions under the sway of  Tehran and Moscow to Western sanctions.

 This Russian financial and economic support for Iran has been mainly since the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran in 2018, after Washington withdrew from the nuclear agreement concluded between them in 2015, which was mainly between Tehran and the world powers, after which Iran was separated from the “Swift” financial network, as an International Bank Transfers, which is headquartered in Belgium. The similar restrictions have been imposed on a large number of Russian banks since Moscow’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022.  This is what was confirmed by “Mohsen Karimi”, deputy governor of the Central Bank of Iran, in a public challenge to Washington and the West with the help of China and Russia, by stressing that:

 “Iranian banks no longer need to use the Swift system for transfers and financial transactions with their Russian counterparts, which can all the parties may open letters of credit, transfers or joint guarantees between the two parties”

  This was confirmed by the Russian Central Bank, in agreement with the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, “Mohsen Karimi”, stressing that “about 700 Russian banks and 106 non-Russian banks from 13 different countries will be linked to a new credit and banking system.”  This is without going into details about the names of foreign banks that will accept such banking and financial trading away from the global financial system of “SWIFT” for financial and monetary trading, which is officially approved internationally.

 This is precisely understood from him, as the Chinese and Russians did not leave Iran alone in the midst of the danger or the wind of any imminent military war against them.  Perhaps, in this case, Russia will try to take revenge on Washington and Tel Aviv with generous military and economic support for Iran, especially in light of its facing sanctions by the United States of America and the European Union.

 This brings us to the political scene in Egypt in a more precise and objective manner, emphasizing the smooth and clear vision of the Egyptian approach in Cairo, and that Egypt actually does not share the concern of the Gulf countries about the West’s nuclear agreement with Iran, just as Egypt did not adopt the assessment expressed by the United States of America that Iran  It supports terrorism, in addition to the fact that Egypt plays a very conservative role in the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis, who are sympathetic to Iran.

  Hence, we conclude, based on our reading and analysis of the general scene, that this economic crisis in Egypt is fabricated by the Americans, Israelis, Westerners, and even the Gulf states, to push the Egyptian army, as the strongest armies in the region, to bear the cost and burden of the war, which is not fundamental to Egyptian interests on behalf of everyone.  precedent for Egypt, in addition to the withdrawal of a number of foreign investors, mainly, suddenly and at once, and at the same precise and sensitive time from the Egyptian financial market within the framework of “pressuring the Egyptian regime, in order to respond to the conditions of the International Monetary Fund, and those in charge of it politically and economically in the first place, who are Washington and its allies in the West,  As a part of a systematic campaign against Egypt and its army to bear the cost and burden of the war against Iran on behalf of Israel, the Gulf and everyone, and in favor of competition between Washington, Beijing and Moscow as allies of Iran in the Middle East.

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Middle East

The Netanyahu’s return

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photo by Haim Zach, GPO source:.flickr /israelipm

A highly diverse company – Palestinians, Arab countries, retired military, the US, which has its own interests in the Middle East, and even the Israelis themselves, is opposing the most radical right-wing government in Israeli history.

General’s rebellion

The Israeli top brass is seriously concerned about what they see as a possible encroachment by the government of Binyamin Netanyahu into their area of responsibility by expanding the powers of a number of far-right ministers. The IDF believes this could adversely affect the armed forces and lead to chaos in strategic decision-making.

Chief of General Staff Aviv Kochavi, resigning, told[1] Netanyahu that the situation in the army is intolerable – in fact, two ministers now head the Defense Ministry, and the military does not understand who to obey. The IDF leadership opposes the re-subordination of the civil administration and the Palestinian Territories Government Coordinator Office to the head of the Religious Zionism Party, Betsalel Smotrich, who claims to be an “additional” or “junior minister” in the Israel Ministry of Defense.

The army is also dissatisfied with the possible granting the right to command the Israel Border Police (Magav) to Itamar Ben-Gvir, a leader of the Otzma Yehudit party and Minister of National Security. Such an innovation, according to the General Staff, not only disrupts the command chain, but also undermines the authority of the Central District generals.

Another feature by the far-right relats to the desire of the country’s Chief Rabbinate to grant itself the right to appoint the IDF rabbi, and this is supposedly dictated by the need to correct the “questionable moral situation within the army.” In a message to Netanyahu, General Kochavi urged the Prime Minister to first consult with professional military personnel before making a final decision. Netanyahu promised to look into it before making a decision.

The current military was supported[2] by some 1,197 retirees, including Dan Halutz, who served as Chief of Staff in 2005–2007, former commander of the Israeli Air Force Avihu Ben-Nun and former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate Amos Yadlin. In a letter to the Supreme Court, the Office of the State Attorney and other Israeli justice bodies, they asked to “stop the calamity that is engulfing the country”, referring to the far-right who won the elections.

A third intifada threat

But this is not the only and perhaps not the biggest problem caused by the return of the far-right to power. As we know, bloody clashes between the IDF and armed Palestinian militants have long been commonplace in the occupied Arab territories. But a third intifada is out of the question as long as Palestinian factions are divided. But that could all change if radical Israeli ministers deliberately provoke the Palestinians into action.

This is “outrageous” politicians especially true such as Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who forbid displaying the Palestinian flag in public places, or actually storm[3] the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which, we should remember, is Islam’s third most important holy place. As for Hamas, it has so far refrained from firing rockets at Israel, but this has not prevented it from organising Palestinian resistance. Therefore, the mobilisation of various Palestinian factions for the intifada cannot be ruled out, and this is a very dangerous moment.

According to the UN[4], last year was the deadliest since 2006, when more than 170 Palestinians were killed, including 30 children. By comparison, only 20 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Israel. The situation is standard: violence in response to violence. Besides, it is clear what can be expected if the Israeli policy towards the Palestinians under the new government has only got tougher.

Netanyahu’s allies claim that he is trying to avoid conflict as much as possible, but if events continue to unfold as they have recent weeks, it cannot be ruled out that the situation will get out of the Prime Minister’s control.

Judicial reform

Israeli indignation has also been sparked by the Netanyahu government’s intentions to encroach on the judiciary foundations. The plan of Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, a member of the right-wing Likud party, is to pass a law that would make it possible to set aside the Supreme Court decisions. Levin considers the present judicial system reform to be sound, for it would, in his view, give too many rights to judges and legal advisers, for whom no one voted.

The judiciary reform opponents, among them the former Minister of Justice, Gideon Sa’ar, believe that if the reform bill is passed by the Knesset, it will lead to a “regime change” in Israel: a partial democracy instead it will be an openly authoritarian government. Netanyahu’s enemies are certain that the new cabinet has deliberately opted for a judicial reform in order to protect the returning prime minister from prosecution.

As we know[5], power corruption and abuse several criminal cases were opened against Netanyahu even before his re-election.

Former Prime Minister Yair Lapid also criticized the judicial reforms, arguing [6]that “regime change” could lead to a civil war. Then the Ministry of Defense former head Benny Gantz, called[7] on Israelis to “march en masse and make the country tremble” – some ninety thousand people followed his call.

Political style

After Israel’s most right-wing government came to power, Washington has serious concerns about Tel Aviv’s plans to permanently annex the West Bank. The US administration is convinced that the legalisation of dozens of Israeli settlements in the occupied territory undermines hopes for an independent Palestinian state.

Recall: when Washington pushed the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan as well as the Saudis to normalise relations with Israel, it promised to give the Palestinians statehood in return. Now it turns out that Tel Aviv is not eager to facilitate the emergence of a Palestinian state, but will continue to try to expand ties with the Arabs — especially with the rich countries of the Persian Gulf.

However, these countries, too, are disappointed with the rise of right-wing politicians to power in Tel Aviv and openly declare that the normalisation of relations with Israel has been one-sided and extremely ugly. This is not what was expected when the Abraham Accords was signed. Perhaps this is why the Palestinians perceive the Agreement as a betrayal.

In any case, the hatred and contempt shown by the new Israeli government for the Palestinians is the reason why Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq, refused to ratify the relations a law that will ban normalizing relations with Israel. Although until a couple of months ago, the Sultanate was considered next in line to sign Abraham Accords with Israel. The Israelis attribute this to a change in Oman’s political orientation in favour of Iran.

Between Kyiv and Moscow

After Netanyahu’s team won the elections, it was thought that Bibi would begin to mend relations with Moscow, which his predecessor Naftali Bennett had almost reduced to a plinth. Indeed, shortly after New Year’s Eve Foreign Minister Eli Cohen phoned[8] his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Their conversation was not made public and they do not say much about it in Moscow or Tel Aviv. Nevertheless, that telephone conversation very fact gave the reason for the foreign affairs Kyiv minister Dmitriy Kuleba to declare that Netanyahu’s cabinet was changing its foreign policy towards Russia.

Meanwhile, there has been no particular change, although Netanyahu did say after he was elected that Israel would limit its aid to Ukraine to humanitarian aid. In reality, mercenaries are still coming from Israel to Ukraine and Israeli specialists, together with Americans, are testing new weapons in the war zone, course, while they are in Ukrainian combat ranks.

It would not be a bad idea to deal with the Israeli “humanitarian aid”, which in addition to body armour and helmets, includes electronic anti-drone weapons and air-raid warning devices.

In short, what Netanyahu wants from Moscow is for the Kremlin not to react too painfully to Israeli strikes on Syria and the Iranian installations on its territory. However, such strikes may over time become more destructive and one day may even go nuclear.

This is not a silly joke. Tzachi Hanegbi spelt the head of the National Security Council this out Council, at the Chief of General Staff change ceremony (General Herzi Halevi was replacing Aviv Kochavi, who was retiring). He said that if everyone turns their backs on Israel and Israel is left alone, it will do everything to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state, and therefore it will deal a crushing blow to its nuclear facilities.

Recall: Palestinians fire rockets into Israeli territory after an Israeli military operation. The Iron Dome went off. The Israeli army reports the interception of at least two rockets. The situation escalated after the Israelis carried out a surprise and swift operation in the West Bank. Backed by armoured vehicles, the military entered the town of Jenin and eliminated several members of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group.

Locals clashed with the Israelis but suffered casualties. Nine Arabs were killed and dozens wounded. The Palestinian Authority deemed the operation an illegal invasion of its territory and said it could no longer hold a political dialogue with Tel Aviv.

The Israeli Air Force struck Hamas training centres. Aircraft and drone strikes were carried out.

On Friday evening, Israeli police reported a terrorist attack on a synagogue in East Jerusalem. Local media reported that at least eight people were killed and 10 injured in the Neve Yaakov area. The police later specified that the victims were seven.

*It should be recalled that Israel has never officially announced that it has nuclear weapons.


[1] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230107-israel-kochavi-warns-of-two-heads-for-army/amp/

[2] https://www.timesofisrael.com/1000-ex-air-force-officers-ask-jurists-to-stop-new-government-from-razing-democracy/amp/

[3] https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2023/1/3/in-provocation-israel-far-right-minister-enters-al-aqsa-compound

[4] https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2023/1/26/why-israeli-raids-killed-many-palestinians-this-year-explainer

[5] https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/gallery/2023/1/15/israelis-rally-against-netanyahu-government

[6] https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/lapid-says-judicial-reform-proposal-is-actually-extreme-regime-change/

[7] https://www.timesofisrael.com/gantz-urges-israelis-from-left-to-right-to-attend-anti-government-rallies-saturday/amp/

[8] https://www.timesofisrael.com/russias-lavrov-congratulates-new-israeli-fm-cohen-in-phone-call-that-may-anger-kyiv/amp/

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Why and How the EU Should Take Command of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

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Gaza (file photo) UNOCHA/Samar Elouf

January has proved to be a bloody start to the year in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An Israeli raid on January 26 in the West Bank left nine dead – the deadliest single day in more than a year – raising the January death toll to 30. A day later, a Palestinian gunman killed seven Israelis and wounded three others outside a synagogue in Jerusalem. Hamas in the Gaza Strip has joined the clashes by launching rockets into Israeli territory. 

Meanwhile, the United States, seen as the international leader in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, called for the two sides to de-escalate the mounting tension. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has leveraged his pre-planned trip in the region to speak directly with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to prevent more bloodshed. Blinken’s visit with leaders might help ease the situation in the interim – but it is more akin to placing a Band-Aid on a hemorrhaging wound. 

President Joe Biden has worked to highlight the American commitment to the two-state solution upon taking office in January 2021 and to distance himself from Donald Trump’s controversial approach to the region. But, besides reversing the diplomatic rhetoric, the Biden Administration has not veered far away Trump’s regional policies, nor has it made any groundbreaking advancements vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. And it is not likely that Biden will seek to prop up negotiations any time soon, since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict currently sits low on America’s foreign policy agenda.

However, the wound caused by the continuous cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine needs effective leadership to stitch it up and stop the bleeding. If the United States is no longer able or willing to serve as the bulwark of peace negotiations, it is time for a new leader to take the reins. One of America’s partners in the Quartet on the Middle East – the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), and Russia – have the diplomatic history and power to help pave the road to new negotiations. 

Of the three, the EU is the most natural fit to replace the United States. The UN now finds itself unable to create any progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front, most often due to the United States vetoing any resolution it views as unfavorable to its ally Israel. Since it invaded Ukraine, Russia has become a pariah state in the international community and lacks the legitimacy to solve a dispute as high-profile as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Conversely, the EU has substantial diplomatic engagement with Israel and Palestine, has dedicated “considerable time and sources to address the conflict,” and has the necessary legitimacy to act as an international negotiator.

For the moment, the EU’s diplomatic corps is extensively focused on the outbreak of war on the continent, which could dilute its engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian theater. The war in Ukraine, however, should not distract diplomats from pursuing a resolution to what some argue is “one of the world’s most intractable and geopolitical conflicts.” For over two decades, analysts have consistently labeled Israel and Palestine as potential flashpoints for large-scale violence. The EU even communicated as recently as 2021 that the Union “should renew efforts to reach a settlement in the [Israeli-Palestinian] Peace Process.” While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may not be as geographically close to Europeans as the war in Ukraine, it should deserve equal weight in terms of diplomatic importance.

First and foremost, forging a peace plan will require the EU to balance its diplomatic capabilities to manage a solution for both the war in Ukraine and the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Historically, the European community has successfully juggled the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with other pressing subjects on its diplomatic agenda. During the Cold War, the European Community – the EU’s precursor – was busy grappling with how to handle relations with the Communist bloc. Still, the EC coordinated its efforts to release the 1971 Schumann Document, the 1977 London declaration, and the 1980 Venice Declaration. These documents and statements called for the Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territories, creating a Palestinian homeland, and establishing concrete parameters for solving regional disputes, respectively. While war raged on the European continent in the 1990s, the EU balanced its priorities effectively to seek a resolution to the Kosovo War while also working towards ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the Berlin Declaration in March 1999. This EU declaration reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to recognizing Palestine as a state in due course.  

Second, the EU must establish deeper connections with civil society in Israel and Palestine. International legitimacy is necessary to solve disputes, but Israelis and Palestinians also need to have faith in who is leading the reconciliation effort. Israelis have, in recent years, viewed the EU with skepticism. Only 42 percent of Israelis in a 2021 EU poll stated they had a “positive view” of the organization. For Palestinians, there has been an increasing sense of feeling “abandoned” by Western governments in recent years. The EU does have an advantage in establishing closer ties with Palestinian society, as a reported 57 percent of respondents in another 2021 EU poll have a positive view of the Union. Direct engagement with civil society and increasing trust will help create fresh approaches to resolving the conflict and allow the EU to better understand the short- and long-term needs of individuals. 

Third, the EU must leverage regional partners to push for reconciliation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The 2007 split between Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank has become a considerable roadblock toward a two-state solution. Any path leading to Palestinian statehood must re-unite the Palestinian cause into one cohesive unit. Doing so will cross off a necessary pre-requisite to generate a new Israeli-Palestinian peace framework. Yet, the EU has listed Hamas as a terrorist organization and maintains a zero-contact policy with the entity. Working with regional actors, such as Egypt and Turkey, who have direct links to both Hamas and the PA, can help push the two parties to the negotiating table to work towards a political settlement.

These three steps are by no means revolutionary in the history of Middle East peace negotiations, but they are necessary given the current environment. By increasing the diplomatic importance of the crisis, creating deeper overtures into civil society, and leveraging partners to mend the Hamas-PA schism, the EU can help lay the preliminary foundations for a new peace plan. The vicious cycle of violence and status quo ceasefires between the two camps has gone on long enough. The time is now for the EU to flex its diplomatic muscles and be the capstone negotiator in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. 

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