At the end of 2005, Jerusalem’s population stood at 718,000, representing 10% of Israel’s citizens, according to data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics ahead of Jerusalem Day celebrations which begin Thursday night.

Thirty-nine years since the northern and eastern portions of Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Temple Mount, were liberated from Jordan, Jerusalem’s population has risen by 170%. The rest of the country's population rose during this period by 147%.

Illegal immigration from Judea and Samaria plus a high birthrate have contributed to the increasing percentage of Arabs living in the capital. In 1967, Jews constituted nearly three-fourths (74%) of the city. Today, they make up two-thirds (66%).

City Council member David Hadari said the "order of the day" is to increase Jerusalem’s Jewish population. He said Israel must educate its children to recognize the importance of Jerusalem in the land of Israel. “If we don’t come en masse and settle Jerusalem, there’s a chance we can lose the struggle for Israel’s capital,” he said.

Representatives of the National Religious Party (NRP) on the city council said they “support any initiatives to bring young people to Jerusalem.” They suggested granting scholarships and expanding the city’s boundaries eastward to include Maaleh Adumim. Maaaleh Adumim and Modiin Illit (Kiryat Sefer) are the largest Israeli cities in Judea and Samaria, each with just over 30,000 residents.

The NRP representatives called on the government to implement “E-1,” a plan for settling thousands of Israelis in a corridor from Jerusalem to Maaleh Adumim to ensure territorial contiguity between the two cities.

Prior to last March’s election, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he was committed to implementing the plan. E-1 has been severely criticized by the Bush Administration, which claims it contradicts the Road Map plan.

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky said that the government recently approved measures to provide scholarships and grants, totaling NIS 12.3 million ($2.7 million), to young people who move to Jerusalem.

He said 490 students studying in Jerusalem are already receiving loans amounting to NIS 8500 ($1900) per year. The loan turns into a grant, he explained, if the student decides to live permanently in the capital.

Young couples who buy a home in Jerusalem are entitled to an NIS 20,000 ($4450) grant.

Other Jerusalem numbers provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics:

As of 2004, almost 60% of the city's population - 414,300 Jews and Arabs - live in the areas added to the city in 1967. Of these, 56% are Arabs, comprising 98% of the city's Arab population, while the rest are Jews, comprising 39% of the Jewish population in Jerusalem.

Among the new Jewish neighborhoods are Ramot (39,500), Pisgat Ze'ev (38,000), Gilo (25,800), N'vei Yaakov (18,900), Ramat Shlomo (13,900), and Talpiot Mizrach (11,400).

The population of the Old City climbed from 23,700 in 1967 to 35,900 at the end of 2004. The Jews there number 3,100.