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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

Beyond the friendship diplomacy between Morocco and Mauritania

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Over the past decade or so, many politicians and diplomats have held that the most significant bilateral relationship has been between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. That remains true today, and it will be likely the case for long- term partnership to come, even as the sort of that relationship changes over time. Due to, diplomatic rapprochement between them and bilateral cooperation on several levels, Mauritania, tends formally to withdraw its full recognition of the Polisario Front “SADR” before the term of the current president, Mohamed Ould Al-Ghazwani, ends.

Yet, the truth is that Mauritania has unalterably shifted from the previous engagement with Morocco to the recent conflict with it on nearly all the key fronts: geopolitics, trade, borders security, finance, and even the view on domestic governance. To that extent, Mauritania was the most affected by the Polisario Front militia’s violation to close the Guerguerat border crossing and prevent food supplies from reaching their domestic markets. This crisis frustrated Mauritanian people and politicians who demanded to take firm stances towards the separatists.

In the context of the fascinating development in relations between Rabat and Nouakchott, the Mauritanian government stated that President Ould Ghazwani is heading to take a remarkable decision based on derecognized the so-called Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and Polisario Front as its sole representative and follow up the recent UN peace process through the case of Western Sahara conflict under UN Security Council resolutions.

Similarly, the United States announced that “Moroccan (Western) Sahara is an integral part of The Kingdom–a traditional Ally, and it supports the Moroccan government’s constitutional procedures to maintain Moroccan Southern provinces strong and united.” It was rapidly followed by all major countries of African, and the Arab Middle East also extended their supports to the government in Rabat. What a determined move against the Polisario Front separatism in a sovereign state!

During the Western Sahara dispute, the Moroccan Sahrawi was humiliated to the end by Polisario Front: it not only lost their identity but also resulted in the several ethnics’ claim for “independence” in the border regions within. currently, Morocco is the only regional power in North Africa that has been challenged in terms of national unity and territorial integrity. The issues cover regional terrorism, political separatism, and fundamental radicalism from various radical ethnic groups. Although the population of the “Polisario groups” is irrelevant because of Morocco’s total population, the territorial space of the ethnic minorities across the country is broadly huge and prosperous in natural resources. besides, the regions are strategically important.

In foreign affairs doctrine, the certainty of countries interacting closely, neighboring states and Algeria, in particular, have always employed the issue of the Western Sahara dispute in the Southern Region of Morocco as the power to criticize and even undermine against Morocco in the name of discredit Sahrawi rights, ethnic discrimination, social injustice, and natural resources exploitation. therefore, local radical Sahrawi groups have occasionally resisted Morocco’s authority over them in a vicious or nonviolent way. Their resistance in jeopardy national security on strategic borders of the Kingdom, at many times, becoming an international issue.

A Mauritanian media stated, that “all the presidential governments that followed the former President Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidala, a loyal and supporter to the Polisario Front, were not at all satisfied with the recognition of the SADR creation due to its fear that it would cause reactions from Algeria. however, Mauritania today is not the state of 1978, it has become a well-built country at the regional level, and the position of its military defense has been enhanced at the phase of the continent’s armies after it was categorized as a conventional military power.”

This is what Mauritania has expected the outcome. Although neighboring Mauritania has weeded out the pressures of the Algerian regime, which stood in the way of rapprochement with the Kingdom of Morocco, and the Mauritanian acknowledged that Nouakchott today is “ready to take the historic decision that seeks its geopolitical interests and maintain strategic stability and security of the entire region, away from the external interactions.” Hence, The Mauritanian decision, according to the national media, will adjust its neutral position through the Moroccan (Western) Sahara issue; Because previously was not clear in its political arrangement according to the international or even regional community.

Given the Moroccan domestic opinion, there is still optimistic hope about long-term collaboration on the transformation between Morocco and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, even considering some temporary difficulties between the two in the Western Sahara conflict. For example, prior Mauritania has recognized the Polisario since the 1980s, but this recognition did not turn into an embassy or permanent diplomatic sign of the separatist entity in Mauritania, the Kingdom has a long-standing relationship with Mauritania and the recent regional politics would not harm that, because it’s a political circumstance.

Despite the strain exerted by the Polisario Front and Algeria on Mauritania, and intending to set impediments that avoid strategic development of its relations with Rabat, the Mauritanian-Moroccan interactions have seen an increased economic development for nearly two years, which end up with a phone call asked King Mohammed VI to embark on an official visit to Mauritania as President Ould Ghazwani requested.

For decades, the kingdom of Morocco has deemed a united, stable, and prosperous Maghreb region beneficial to itself and Northern Africa since it is Kingdom’s consistent and open stance and strategic judgment. Accordingly, Morocco would continue supporting North Africa’s unity and development. On the one hand, Morocco and Mauritania are not only being impacted by the pandemic, but also facing perils and challenges such as unilateralism, and protectionism. On the other hand, Rabat opines that the two neighboring states and major forces of the world necessarily established their resolve to strengthen communication and cooperation with each other. To that end, both states would make efforts to set up long-term strategic consensus including mutual trust, reciprocal understandings, and respect to the United Nations and the current international system based on multilateralism.

In sum, both Morocco and Mauritania are sovereign states with a strong desire to be well-built and sophisticated powers. Previous successes and experiences in solving territorial disputes and other issues have given them confidence, which motivated both countries to join hands in the struggles for national independence, equality, and prosperity. In sense of the world politics, two states promise to advance the great cause of reorganization and renovation and learn from each other’s experience in state power and party administration.

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Middle East

Getting Away With Murder: The New U.S. Intelligence Report on the Khashoggi Affair

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It was October 2, 2018 when a man walked into the Saudi Arabian consulate to collect some documents he needed for his impending marriage.  He had been there earlier on September 28, and had been told to allow a few days for them to prepare the needed proof of divorce from an earlier marriage.

So there he was.  His Turkish fiancée had accompanied him and he asked her to wait outside as it would only take a minute or two.  She waited and waited and… waited.  Jamal Khashoggi never came out.

What went on inside is a matter of dispute but US intelligence prepared a report which should have been released but was illegally blocked by the Trump administration.  Mr. Trump is no doubt grateful for the help he has had over two decades from various Saudi royals in addition to the business thrown his way at his various properties.  “I love the Saudis,” says Donald Trump and he had kept the report under wraps.  It has now been released by the new Biden administration.      

All the same, grisly details of the killing including dismemberment soon emerged because in this tragic episode, with an element of farce, it was soon evident that the Turks had bugged the consulate.  There is speculation as to how the perpetrators dispersed of the corpse but they themselves have been identified.  Turkish officials also claim to know that they acted on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government.  They arrived on a private jet and left just as abruptly.

The egregious killing led to the UN appointing a Special Rapporteur, Agnes Callamard.  She concluded it to be an “extra-judicial killing for which the state of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible.”  She added, there was “credible evidence”  implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior officials.  

Now the US report.  Intelligence agencies conclude Jamal Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit squad under the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  They add that the latter has had unitary control over Saudi security and intelligence organizations and thus it was “highly unlikely” an operation of this nature would have been possible without Prince Mohammed’s authorization.

Mr. Biden’s reaction is plain.  Although the Crown Prince is the de facto ruler with his father the King’s acquiescence, Mr. Biden has not talked to him.  He called the king and emphasized the importance placed on human rights and the rule of law in the US.

President Biden is also re-evaluating US arms sales to the Kingdom with a view to limiting them to defensive weapons — a difficult task as many can be used for both, a fighter-bomber for example.

There are also calls for sanctions against the Crown Prince directly but Biden has ruled that out.  Saudi Arabia is after all the strongest ally of the US in the region, and no president wants to jeopardize that relationship.  Moreover, the US has done the same sort of thing often enough; the last prominent assassination being that of the senior Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani,  by the Trump administration.  

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Middle East

US intelligence report leaves Saudi Arabia with no good geopolitical choices

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The Biden administration’s publication of a US intelligence report that holds Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi creates a fundamental challenge to the kingdom’s geopolitical ambitions.

The challenge lies in whether and how Saudi Arabia will seek to further diversify its alliances with other world powers in response to the report and US human rights pressure.

Saudi and United Arab Emirates options are limited by that fact that they cannot fully replace the United States as a mainstay of their defence as well as their quest for regional hegemony, even if the report revives perceptions of the US as unreliable and at odds with their policies.

As Saudi King Salman and Prince Mohammed contemplate their options, including strengthening relations with external players such as China and Russia, they may find that reliance on these forces could prove riskier than the pitfalls of the kingdom’s ties with the United States.

Core to Saudi as well as UAE considerations is likely to be the shaping of the ultimate balance of power between the kingdom and Iran in a swath of land stretching from the Atlantic coast of Africa to Central Asia’s border with China.

US officials privately suggest that regional jockeying in an environment in which world power is being rebalanced to create a new world order was the key driver of Saudi and UAE as well as Israeli opposition from day one to the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran that the United States together with Europe, China, and Russia negotiated. That remains the driver of criticism of US President Joe Biden’s efforts to revive the agreement.

“If forced to choose, Riyadh preferred an isolated Iran with a nuclear bomb to an internationally accepted Iran unarmed with the weapons of doom,” said Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Washington-based Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and founder of the National Iranian American Council. Mr. Parsi was summing up Saudi and Emirati attitudes based on interviews with officials involved in the negotiations at a time that Mr. Biden was vice-president.

As a result, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel appear to remain determined to either foil a return of the United States to the accord, from which Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald J. Trump, withdrew, or ensure that it imposes conditions on Iran that would severely undermine its claim to regional hegemony.

In the ultimate analysis, the Gulf states and Israel share US objectives that include not only restricting Iran’s nuclear capabilities but also limiting its ballistic missiles program and ending support for non-state actors like Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraqi militias, and Yemen’s Houthis. The Middle Eastern states differ with the Biden administration on how to achieve those objectives and the sequencing of their pursuit.

Even so, the Gulf states are likely to realize as Saudi Arabia contemplates its next steps what Israel already knows: China and Russia’s commitment to the defence of Saudi Arabia or Israel are unlikely to match that of the United States given that they view an Iran unfettered by sanctions and international isolation as strategic in ways that only Turkey rather than other Middle Eastern states can match.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE will also have to recognize that they can attempt to influence US policies with the help of Israel’s powerful Washington lobby and influential US lobbying and public relations companies in ways that they are not able to do in autocratic China or authoritarian Russia.

No doubt, China and Russia will seek to exploit opportunities created by the United States’ recalibration of its relations with Saudi Arabia with arms sales as well as increased trade and investment.

But that will not alter the two countries’ long-term view of Iran as a country, albeit problematic, with attributes that the Gulf states cannot match even if it is momentarily in economic and political disrepair.

Those attributes include Iran’s geography as a gateway at the crossroads of Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe; ethnic, cultural, and religious ties with Central Asia and the Middle East as a result of history and empire; a deep-seated identity rooted in empire; some of the world’s foremost oil and gas reserves; a large, highly educated population of 83 million that constitutes a huge domestic market; a fundamentally diversified economy; and a battle-hardened military.

Iran also shares Chinese and Russian ambitions to contain US influence even if its aspirations at times clash with those of China and Russia.

“China’s BRI will on paper finance additional transit options for the transfer of goods from ports in southern to northern Iran and beyond to Turkey, Russia, or Europe. China has a number of transit options available to it, but Iranian territory is difficult to avoid for any south-north or east-west links,” said Iran scholar Alex Vatanka referring to Beijing’s infrastructure, transportation and energy-driven Belt and Road Initiative.

Compared to an unfettered Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE primarily offer geography related to some of the most strategic waterways through which much of the world’s oil and gas flows as well their positioning opposite the Horn of Africa and their energy reserves.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s position as a religious leader in the Muslim world built on its custodianship of Islam’s two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, potentially could be challenged as the kingdom competes for leadership with other Middle Eastern and Asian Muslim-majority states.

On the principle of better the enemy that you know than the devil that you don’t, Saudi leaders may find that they are, in the best of scenarios, in response to changing US policies able to rattle cages by reaching out to China and Russia in ways that they have not until now, but that at the end of the day they are deprived of good choices.

That conclusion may be reinforced by the realization that the United States has signalled by not sanctioning Prince Mohammed that it does not wish to cut its umbilical cord with the kingdom. That message was also contained in the Biden administration’s earlier decision to halt the sale of weapons that Saudi Arabia could you for offensive operations in Yemen but not arms that it needs to defend its territory from external attack.

At the bottom line, Saudi Arabia’s best option to counter an Iran that poses a threat to the kingdom’s ambitions irrespective of whatever regime is in power would be to work with its allies to develop the kind of economic and social policies as well as governance that would enable it to capitalize on its assets to effectively compete. Containment of Iran is a short-term tactic that eventually will run its course.

Warned former British diplomat and Royal Dutch Shell executive Ian McCredie: “When the Ottoman Empire was dismantled in 1922, it created a vacuum which a series of powers have attempted to fill ever since. None has succeeded, and the result has been a century of wars, coups, and instability. Iran ruled all these lands before the Arab and Ottoman conquests. It could do so again.”

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