Commentators spoke about the achievement of the Hamas, feature writers described the atmosphere of democratic celebration in the streets of Ramallah, but the most important headline was missed by everyone: one million, three hundred thousand. That is the number of eligible Palestinian Authority voters in Samaria, Judea, Gaza and Jerusalem. All together, including everyone - 1.3 million.

In Israel, in contrast, the number of eligible voters is more than five million. In short, we've been fooled. We were presented a demographic demon that never existed. "Between the sea and the Jordan River," they menaced us, "there is already almost an equal number of Israelis and Palestinians. Soon, they will be the majority." The very same week of the PA elections, several prestigious speakers even repeated that mantra at the Herzliya Conference.

What "majority"? 5.1 million Israelis as opposed to 1.3 million Palestinians. Those are the official numbers.

For two years, a dispute has been underway between the creators of the demographic demon, chief among them Professor Arnon Sofer, and between a group of Israeli and American researchers, whose chief spokesperson is Yoram Ettinger. The former say the number of Palestinians is close to four million, and the latter speak about 2.4 million. All of them admit that their figures are dependent on estimates and calculations, and on Palestinian publications that are themselves estimates - or perhaps propaganda - because since 1968, no one has carried out a population census in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. I am unqualified to interfere in such a professional dispute among learned men, but here we do have an official number, one-to-one: one million and three hundred thousand, including Gaza.

I have already heard one of the devotees of the demographic demon explain the huge disparity, saying "it is well known" that there is a giant natural population growth among the Palestinians. They have a lot of children; and so, the number of people over the age of 18 is only a third of the population. You have to triple the voter rolls in order to get an accurate figure, including children.

Excuse me, but how is it "known" that there is a giant natural population growth? First, you determined that there are nearly four million Palestinians, when it is known that in 1967 there were 1.1 million. The conclusion from this is that there is a tremendous natural population increase; and the conclusion from this is that there are nearly four million Palestinians. That is circular logic. It is equally possible to do the reverse calculation: to assume that the total number is less than two million. The conclusion from this is that there is a small natural increase, and the conclusion from this is that there are less than two million.

It is possible, however, to do a calculation with no curlicues. We don't know how many children they have under the age of 18, but we know for a fact that 18 years ago, those children did not exist. That is, those 1.3 million eligible voters of today were the entire population, including children, in 1988. We must add on another five or six percent for people who were 65 years old or older and have died in the interim. Let's be generous and add on another ten percent. The result is that in 1988, 18 years ago, there were a total of 1.45 million Palestinians, including children.

In 1967, Israel carried out a true census in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, from house to house, and found that there were nearly 1.1 million people. That is, in 21 years, the Palestinian population increased by about a third. That is not a large growth. It is similar to the increase among the Jews. And if we consider that in the years following the Six Day War, Israel allowed 150,000 people to return to Judea and Samaria from Jordan and the Gulf states, then the natural increase among Palestinians is revealed to be even smaller.

But let's not take that into consideration; rather, let's fully accept a one-third population growth in 21 years. After another 21 years, there will be another one-third increase; that is, in 2009, the Palestinian population in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem will reach 1.9 million. Far less even than the minimalist school of thought. That means that not only are we very far from parity, but that the difference in favor of the Jews is getting larger with time.

Finally, why should we even deal with the total number? If we take into account just Judea and Samaria, without Gaza and without Jerusalem, the number of Palestinian voters was around 700,000. That's it (the exact official figure that the Palestinians publicized was 762,040, but that includes approximately 60,000 residents of Jerusalem according to the Israeli definition - holders of Israeli ID cards - whom the Palestinian records define as residents of Judea and Samaria). That is, if we believe our own statements that we have already left Gaza and that Jerusalem is Israeli and unified, then the balance is 700,000 adult Palestinians versus five million adult Israelis. That's the whole demographic demon.

And now you may ask what difference it makes; am I proposing to annex to Israel all those 700,000 Palestinians?

The answer is that regarding a small portion of them, yes, but more generally, no. But forgive me one last calculation, and that's it. If we are 5.1 million people and they are 700,000, then they are 12 percent of the overall population. They do not deserve 20 percent of the territory. It is unjust, especially in light of the fact that in the tiny territory that remains for us, almost 50 percent of it - from Be'er Sheva to Eilat - is desert.

Ten percent would be a more-than-fair share.

In Israel, in contrast, the number of eligible voters is more than five million. In short, we've been fooled. We were presented a demographic demon that never existed. "Between the sea and the Jordan River," they menaced us, "there is already almost an equal number of Israelis and Palestinians. Soon, they will be the majority." The very same week of the PA elections, several prestigious speakers even repeated that mantra at the Herzliya Conference.

What "majority"? 5.1 million Israelis as opposed to 1.3 million Palestinians. Those are the official numbers.

For two years, a dispute has been underway between the creators of the demographic demon, chief among them Professor Arnon Sofer, and between a group of Israeli and American researchers, whose chief spokesperson is Yoram Ettinger. The former say the number of Palestinians is close to four million, and the latter speak about 2.4 million. All of them admit that their figures are dependent on estimates and calculations, and on Palestinian publications that are themselves estimates - or perhaps propaganda - because since 1968, no one has carried out a population census in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. I am unqualified to interfere in such a professional dispute among learned men, but here we do have an official number, one-to-one: one million and three hundred thousand, including Gaza.

**No Huge Population Growth**I have already heard one of the devotees of the demographic demon explain the huge disparity, saying "it is well known" that there is a giant natural population growth among the Palestinians. They have a lot of children; and so, the number of people over the age of 18 is only a third of the population. You have to triple the voter rolls in order to get an accurate figure, including children.

Excuse me, but how is it "known" that there is a giant natural population growth? First, you determined that there are nearly four million Palestinians, when it is known that in 1967 there were 1.1 million. The conclusion from this is that there is a tremendous natural population increase; and the conclusion from this is that there are nearly four million Palestinians. That is circular logic. It is equally possible to do the reverse calculation: to assume that the total number is less than two million. The conclusion from this is that there is a small natural increase, and the conclusion from this is that there are less than two million.

It is possible, however, to do a calculation with no curlicues. We don't know how many children they have under the age of 18, but we know for a fact that 18 years ago, those children did not exist. That is, those 1.3 million eligible voters of today were the entire population, including children, in 1988. We must add on another five or six percent for people who were 65 years old or older and have died in the interim. Let's be generous and add on another ten percent. The result is that in 1988, 18 years ago, there were a total of 1.45 million Palestinians, including children.

In 1967, Israel carried out a true census in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, from house to house, and found that there were nearly 1.1 million people. That is, in 21 years, the Palestinian population increased by about a third. That is not a large growth. It is similar to the increase among the Jews. And if we consider that in the years following the Six Day War, Israel allowed 150,000 people to return to Judea and Samaria from Jordan and the Gulf states, then the natural increase among Palestinians is revealed to be even smaller.

But let's not take that into consideration; rather, let's fully accept a one-third population growth in 21 years. After another 21 years, there will be another one-third increase; that is, in 2009, the Palestinian population in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem will reach 1.9 million. Far less even than the minimalist school of thought. That means that not only are we very far from parity, but that the difference in favor of the Jews is getting larger with time.

**Not More Than 10 Percent**Finally, why should we even deal with the total number? If we take into account just Judea and Samaria, without Gaza and without Jerusalem, the number of Palestinian voters was around 700,000. That's it (the exact official figure that the Palestinians publicized was 762,040, but that includes approximately 60,000 residents of Jerusalem according to the Israeli definition - holders of Israeli ID cards - whom the Palestinian records define as residents of Judea and Samaria). That is, if we believe our own statements that we have already left Gaza and that Jerusalem is Israeli and unified, then the balance is 700,000 adult Palestinians versus five million adult Israelis. That's the whole demographic demon.

And now you may ask what difference it makes; am I proposing to annex to Israel all those 700,000 Palestinians?

The answer is that regarding a small portion of them, yes, but more generally, no. But forgive me one last calculation, and that's it. If we are 5.1 million people and they are 700,000, then they are 12 percent of the overall population. They do not deserve 20 percent of the territory. It is unjust, especially in light of the fact that in the tiny territory that remains for us, almost 50 percent of it - from Be'er Sheva to Eilat - is desert.

Ten percent would be a more-than-fair share.