Demographer: Beware Bibi’s Plans for PA
by Maayana Miskin
(IsraelNN.com) Demographer Yoram Ettinger warned Thursday that plans discussed the day before by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and several of his ministers are likely to encourage Arab growth in Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu’s plans could tip demographics in the PA’s favor, thus posing a security threat to Israel, he said.
Demography is an important component of the Arab war on Israel, and plays a role vis-a-vis Israel’s long-term security, he explained. Israel’s policies should take demographics into account, he said.
“For Palestinians, the emigration factor is more important than the birthrate. If we want a Jewish majority west of the Jordan, we have to understand that projects like these [supported by Netanyahu] encourage Palestinians to move here, which could endanger the Jewish majority in Israel,” he said.
Israel is largely responsible for the rapid growth of the hostile Arab population in Judea and Samaria since 1967, Ettinger said. Prior to 1967, when the area was under Jordanian rule, tens of thousands of residents left each year for more developed areas, he said. Since 1967, when Israel provided infrastructure and jobs, the population has steadily grown.
Currently, Arab emigration from Judea and Samaria is relatively high following Hamas’ victory in the most recent elections and a demand for labor in Gulf states. However, by creating tens of thousands of jobs for PA Arabs, as Netanyahu hopes to do, Israel will encourage Arabs to immigrate to the area, Ettinger warned.
The results could be significant, he said. Sixty percent of the people living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea are Jewish at the present time, he said – 67 percent if Gaza is not taken into account. By encouraging Arab immigration to the area, Israel could risk losing the Jewish majority in the region.
Ettinger also warned against turning control of crossings between Jordan and Judea and Samaria over to Arab or international control. “On the day that Israel gives control of the crossings to international or Palestinian bodies, what will happen is that one million Palestinians will enter Judea and Samaria, not because of long-term financial considerations but due to money that they’ll be given by terrorist organizations… This will create an automatic flood to within the ‘Green Line’ [pre-1967 Israel] as well.”
PA Birthrate Dropping
Ettinger’s warnings came shortly after the PA admitted that the Arab birthrate in Judea and Samaria has dropped dramatically in the past 12 years. The birthrate in Judea, Samaria and Gaza stood at 6.0 in 1997, but dropped to 4.6 by 2009, PA officials said.
The PA claims that 2.4 million Arabs live in Judea and Samaria, and another 1.5 million in Gaza. Their claims have been disputed by several Israeli demographers, who point out that PA estimates ignore negative Arab immigration, and double-count hundreds of thousands of PA Arabs living in Jerusalem and pre-1967 Israel.
PA statisticians found that unemployment among those seeking work is currently 25 percent. Despite this, almost all families reported possessing basic electronic devices including a refrigerator, an oven and a television, and more than 82 percent had satellite television.