The Palestinian Israeli Demographic Conflict: Israel 2020 and Israeli Policies to Maintain the Domination of the Jewish Group over the non-Jewish Groups
By Kamal M M Al-Astal
Associate Professor (Political Science)
Department of Political Sciences- Al-Azhar University of Gaza-Palestine
Ex-Head of Department of Political Sciences-Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences-Al-Azhar University of Gaza
Address: PoBox (7039)-Khan Younis-Gaza Strip-Palestine
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Today, Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise close to 20% of the total population of the country, numbering over 1,000,000. They live predominantly in villages, towns, and mixed Arab-Jewish cities in the Galilee region in the north, the Triangle area in central Israel, and the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south. A part of the Palestinian people who currently live in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Diaspora, they belong to three religious communities: Muslim (81%), Christian (10%), and Druze (9%). Under international instruments to which Israel is a state party, they constitute a national, ethnic, linguistic, and religious minority.
In 1947, the Palestinians comprised some 67% of the population of Palestine. On 14 May 1948, the State of Israel was established. During the Arab-Israeli war that immediately followed, approximately 780,000 of the pre-1948 Palestinian population fled or were expelled, forced to become refugees in the neighboring Arab states and in the West. Of the 150,000 Palestinians who remained in the new state, approximately 25% were displaced from their homes and villages and became internally displaced persons as the Israeli army destroyed over 400 Arab villages. As a result of the war, the Palestinian population in Israel found itself disoriented and severely weakened. They had been effectively transformed from members of a majority population to a minority in an exclusively Jewish state. They lacked political as well as economic power, as their leadership, as well as their professional and middle classes, were refused the right to return and compelled to live outside of the state.
Importance of the Study
In spite of the voluminous literature on Palestine question, to my knowledge there have been few specific studies (if any) made in this subject. This is one of two reasons which made me think of undertaking this research paper focusing on the demographic conflict in Palestine. Particularly, the Israeli measures to confront the Palestinian high birthrate. The other reason is that the question of demographic dispute between Israel and the Palestinian people has been a hot issue on the daily political life agenda. This latter reason then, made research in this subject, from the researcher’s point of view ever more important in need of clarification.
Objectives of the Study
The aims of this paper are:
v To discuss various aspects of the Israeli policies towards the Palestinian-Israeli demographic balance.
v To review various Israeli point of views about the demographic conflict in Palestine.
v To show a situation in which several factors have been used to face the Palestinian demographic bomb.
Statement of the Problem of the Study
In a NEWSWEEK Poll published in the year 2002, a mere 34 percent of adults surveyed thought Israel would remain a Jewish state 50 years from now. Some 23 percent thought Israel would become a mixed state, where Palestinians have a major share of power, and 18 percent thought it would no longer exist. For many Israelis, the Arab community represents a demographic time bomb. Amounting to 20 percent of the population today, Arabs in Israeli have a much higher birthrate than Jews. Analysts who chart the growth of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip predict that Arabs will outnumber Jews in the area west of the Jordan River by 2010.
The question that has been raised by Israelis what does the Jewish state become when Jews are the minority? Israeli doves advocate parting with the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the only way to preserve both the Jewish identity and the democratic values of the state. “Only this way we can ensure a Jewish majority in Israel.” Says Yossi Beilin. Hard-liners. On the other hand, profess not to worry about the demographic challenge. “As far as the Arabs are concerned, if you do not give them the right to vote, you don’t have a demographic problem.” Says retired general Effi Eitam, who’s emerging as a rising star in the right-wing firmament. He has no problem denying even a Palestinian majority its civil rights. He sys they could accept municipal autonomy or, if that’s not enough, create their own state in neighboring Jordan and Egyptian Sinai.
The paper focused on examining the demographic conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis. The main question is How will Israel survive?
This paper will examine two hypotheses:
v The first, Israel uses the Palestine demographic threat as a pretext to justify its racial and discriminatory policies against the Palestinians inside Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
v The second, Israel has been intended to be a “Jewish state” not a “democratic state”.