Israel needs to make a deal with the Palestinian Authority right away, it it wants to survive as a Jewish state, said Zionist Union/Labor Party head Yitzchak Herzog Sunday. Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Herzog said that Israel faced a “demographic emergency,” and that within a decade there would no longer be a majority of Jews between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
However, not all experts agree with Herzog, and in a recent study, diplomat and demographic analyst Yoram Ettinger said that Israel is gaining the lead in the regional demographic race, and that “there is no need to retreat from Jewish Geography in order to secure Jewish Demography.”
According to statistics cited by Herzog, “Arabs will be a majority between the [Jordan] river and the [Mediterranean] sea within a decade. There will be 52% Arabs versus 48% Jews in the Jewish homeland. This will be the first time since 1948 that we will be a minority in our homeland.”
For Israelis looking for a solution, however, the place not to look was the government, Herzog said. “I have no expectations from the Netanyahu-Bennett government we now have. Twenty out of the thirty Likud MKs oppose a Palestinian state of any kind, and few of the rest support a proper one either. Suffice it to say that the leaders of Likud and Jewish Home want to adopt the radical plans of the Left – turning Israel into a majority Arab state – which is what will happen soon. Their slogan is 'a Jewish State on all of the Land of Israel' – and this is a lie and a fraud,” he said.
Herzog did not cite the source of his statistics, but not all scholars agree with his analysis. In a report last year, Ettinger, basing his research on data collated by a Washington D.C.-based think tank led by Bennett Zimmerman, a former Strategy Consultant with the Bain & Company global management consulting firm, said that Israel was not losing the demographic war.
Ettinger's research showed that the Jewish fertility rate in Israel is among the highest in the industrialized world. Forty years ago, Arab families had an average of six children more than Jewish families in Israel, while today, the gap has closed to less than one child.
Since 1995, the annual number of Arab births within Israel's Green Line has stabilized around 37,000, while the annual number of Jewish births has increased by 34% (from 80,400 in 1995 to 107,000 in 2006).
"There is no demographic machete over the throat of the Jewish State," Ettinger said in his report. "Demography is not an existential threat to the Jewish State.”