Yoram Ettinger is an expert on US-Israel relations, Middle East affairs, and Jewish-Arab demography. A former diplomat, he has served as a consultant to Israeli and US legislators and their staffers. In a recent interview and video, Ettinger argued that the oft-cited demographic timebomb of Palestinians ultimately outnumbering Jews if Judea and Samaria are annexed is based on wildly inaccurate statistics as well as absurd assumptions.
On Thursday, Ettinger explained the situation to Kan News :
“It is amazing that the Israeli establishment and academic establishment echo the numbers being pushed by the Palestinians without any deeper examination,” Ettinger said. “The Palestinians claim that there are three million Arabs in their territory, there are really a million and a half, at the very most, in all of Judea and Samaria. There are another roughly two million Arabs inside the Green Line. On the other side, there are 7.3 million Jews, making the total population of the country as a whole about 68% Jews.”
These numbers exclude Hamas-run Gaza which Israel exited in 2005, dismantling communities that were home to over 10,000 Jews living among two million Arabs.
“Anyone who argues that 68% isn’t a decisive majority – I’ll explain it to them in two ways, Ettinger said. “ One: We’re in the middle of the Zionist effort [to bring Jews to Israel]. In addition, 68% is a much bigger majority than we had during the First Zionist Congress when we were a minority of 9%, or than the time of the establishment of the State of Israel when we were 36%.”
In a video released last week, Ettinger presented his case while holding a mock timebomb as an illustration of his case against the “Arab demographic timebomb.”
“Usually, it is mentioned in the context of urging Israel to make dramatic concessions to the Palestinians. For decades, we have been told that should Israel refuse to retreat from the mountain regions of Judea and Samaria, and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, it would lose its Jewish majority, facing an existential threat.”
“Is that so?” Ettinger asks.
“In 2021, Israel benefits from a Jewish demographic momentum,” Ettinger said.
He noted that the Israeli birthrate is currently 68% higher than it was just six years ago. In the corresponding period of time, there has been only a 16% rise in birth rates among the Palestinians. He also noted that in 1973, the fertility rate among Arab women was 9.23 births per woman as compared to 3.39 among Jewish women. In 2019, this statistic stood at 2.98 among Arab women and 3.09 among Jewish women. One of the factors contributing to the rise in fertility among Jewish women is a declining number of abortions.
Ettinger also noted net immigration adding to the population while emigration has dropped from 14,200 in 1990 to 7,000 in recent years.
Ettinger noted that the data offered by the Palestinian Authority, which receives funding from the UN and many European entities based on this data, is accepted with absolutely no auditing. The PA claims three million Arabs live in Judea and Samaria.
Ettinger contests this claim. He notes that according to PA reports, half a million “Palestinians” living overseas for more than a year are included in that number, as are 350,000 Palestinians who have officially emigrated.
“This is contrary to international regulations,” Ettinger noted.
In addition, 350,000 Arabs from Judea and Samaria and an additional 100,000 Jerusalem Arabs who married Israeli Arabs and are now Israeli citizens are included in the inflated numbers of Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria, with their Israeli spouses, effectively double-counting them.\
Ettinger cited a World Bank survey which documented that the numbers provided by the PA inflated the Arab birth rate by 32%.
He also noted that the PA census in 2007 included Arab residents of Judea and Samaria that claimed to have been born in 1845.
According to Ettinger’s calculations, the true number of Arabs living in Judea and Samaria is 1.5 million, half the number claimed by the PA.
“In 1897, there was a Jewish minority of 9% in Judea, Samaria, and pre-1967 Israel,” Ettinger noted. “In 1947, it was a 39% minority, which expanded in 2021 to a 68% Jewish majority.”
“Therefore, anyone who contends that there is an Arab demographic timebomb relies on highly inflated Palestinian numbers, ignores the Jewish demographic tailwind, and the Arab demographic westernization. And therefore, is dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading.