Demographer Yoram Ettinger tells Arutz-7 that Palestinian Authority data about its growth spurt are distorted, untrue, and wildly contradict World Bank figures. He says there are 2.6 million Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and not the 3.8 million reported by the PA.
The PA's Central Bureau of Statistics released over the weekend the results of its 2007 census, showing that its population increased by more than 30% over the course of the past ten years. Ettinger doesn't buy it.
"It is very astonishing," he said. "The census that was ostensibly carried out in 2007 has findings that are almost exactly the same as the predictions made by the PA's CBS ten years ago - even though over this period there were many dramatic and unexpected developments politically, economically, militarily, and sociologically. There was a war against terrorism, a Fatah-Hamas war, a great increase in unemployment, more planned parenthood, fewer teenage pregnancies, more divorces, more people going abroad to work - and yet still there were no changes from the forecast of ten years ago. This is very hard to accept."
"Moreover," Ettinger continued, "the PA's findings directly contrast with what the World Bank has found. The World Bank says there have been both a great drop in fertility and a great increase in emigration. For instance, there is a full 32% disparity between the PA's prediction ten years ago of how many 6-year-olds there would be now and those there actually are; instead of a growth of 24%, there was actually a drop of 8%... The '97 census even counted Jerusalem Arabs twice - once as Israeli-Arabs by Israel, and once by the PA's CBS as if they lived in the PA... The PA's numbers are exaggerated by approximately 53% over the true numbers."
Ettinger's conclusion? "I would say that not only is there no room for fatality or fear that the Arabs are close to a majority, but there is actually a solid and large Jewish majority of 67% in the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan (not including Gaza), and the momentum is growing in our favor... The demographic issue is no longer a 'problem,' but a 'strategic asset.'"
Another example provided by Ettinger concerns the birthrate during the period from 1995 to 2007: "Israeli-Arab births during this 12-year period remained stable at around 39,000, while at the same time, the Jewish birthrate grew by 40% - from 80,000 to 112,000 a year. This is a pretty good indication of what can be expected here in the next one or two generations."
The true numbers, Ettinger says, are as follows: "Within the Green Line [pre-1967 Israel], there are currently 1.4 million Arabs, compared with almost 6 million Jews. In Judea and Samaria, there are 1.5 million Arabs, and not 2.3 million, as they claim. In Gaza, there are 1.1 million, and not 1.5 million."
Asked why the PA lies, Ettinger explained: "After the last census, on Dec. 11, 1997, the man who headed the PA's Bureau of Statistics, Hassan Abu Libde, told the New York Times that he sees the census as a 'civil intifada,' or a form of psychological terrorism."
Ettinger noted another curious phenomenon: "In the last PA census, in '97, there seemed to be a great jump in the Palestinian population of almost a million people, who are unaccounted for - and when did that happen? Precisely when we had the million new immigrants who came from ex-CIS. They also count students living abroad for more than a year as part of their population. Israel, like all other countries, does not count residents who live abroad for more than a year - and then only if they return for more than 90 days do they put them back on. The Palestinians don't do that; they count even those who live abroad. The PA also doesn't seem to take emigration into account, which the World Bank does. For instance, in 2004, we know that there were 12,000 more people who emigrated than who immigrated; there were 16,000 the next year, and a full 25,000 in 2006! And for 2007, we'll be getting the figures in a few days, but I'm certain it will be well over the 25,000 of 2006."
Asked about the other demographers who do not agree with his team's conclusions, Ettinger said, "I don't have any problems with other demographers who make mistakes, but I do have a problem with politicians who don't check before they make decisions. Anyone who says that in order to save our demography, we must give up our geography, is either mistaken or wantonly misleading. The fact is that we don't have a fatal demographic problem - we have a problem, but it's not fatal. Whoever thinks that a 67% Jewish majority between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River is not enough, should remember that in 1947, we were only 33% in that same area - and look what has happened since then."