A new economic report has revealed that there are now more Palestinians than Jews in the territory under Israel’s jurisdiction between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan. Published in The Marker, a Haaretz newspaper article says that the report virtually implies official acknowledgement by the Netanyahu government that Jews are a minority in historic Palestine.
Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar wrote, “In other words, in the territory under Israel’s jurisdiction a situation of apartheid exists. A Jewish minority rules over an Arab majority.” The report puts the official statistics at 5.9 million Jews and 6.1 million Arabs.
According to The Marker report, Eldar pointed out, the Israeli Tax Authority is trying to pass an amendment to the law for the purpose of revising the ceiling for eligibility for tax benefits with the aim of encouraging exports. “According to the Export Promotion Law approved in 2005, a factory is entitled to a tax break if at least 25 per cent of its income stems from sales to a market with at least 12 million residents.”
The Ministry of Finance has stated that the population of Israel and the Palestinian Authority exceeds the 12 million mark, which enables manufacturers who market to these consumers to enjoy a tax break. “The Tax Authority’s diligent officials would like to raise the threshold for qualifying for the benefit by two million residents, so that they will not have to grant the benefit to those who sell their wares in Israel and the [occupied Palestinian] territories.”
Based on the Ministry of Finance data and a press release issued by the Central Bureau of Statistics (which is subordinate to the Prime Minister’s Office), of the 12 million residents living in Israel and the Palestinian Authority’s areas, only 5.9 million are Jews (as of April 25, 2012). “In other words, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River,” remarked Eldar, “there is a pretty Jewish state as far as its laws and customs, but the reality is not so democratic.”
Foreign sources, he added, reported several years ago that Jews had become a minority in the area of the land of “greater” Israel. “From now on, it is an official statistic.” He rejected the argument that the population of Gaza should be deducted from the figure of 12 million following the Israeli withdrawal in 2005. “The government includes the people of Gaza in an official statistic appearing on Ministry of Finance stationery.”
In the same context, Eldar noted that the term “apartheid” features prominently in an article published in the online Foreign Policy Journal about a new “confidential report” prepared by sixteen US intelligence agencies.
“Franklin Lamb reported to the Foreign Policy Journal on the ‘confidential report’ which, he claims, compares Israel to the apartheid regime in South Africa,” said Eldar. “The document warns that the Arab Spring and the Muslim awakening will encourage 1.2 billion Muslims to fight against what they refer to as ‘the immoral European occupation of Palestine.'”
Furthermore, Lamb argues that the report accuses Israel of intervening in internal US affairs through 60 organisations and some 7,500 administration officials. It advises the US administration to leave Israel alone “as its existence sabotages American interests in moving closer to the Arab world and the Iranian people”.
Eldar sought to discredit Lamb by pointing out that he writes for the Electronic Intifada website and is a member of the Sabra-Shatila Foundation. Sabra and Shatila are the Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut which were the scene of an infamous massacre 30 years ago committed by a Christian militia with material support and encouragement from the Israelis.
Although Eldar believes that there is no reason for Netanyahu to worry that the intelligent report may be presented to US President Barack Obama, “the prime minister certainly must raise his level of concern over all aspects of US-Israel relations.”
The Haaretz journalist warned that despite some “exaggerations”, the article about the intelligence report “reflects the prevailing White House attitude toward Netanyahu”. The official acknowledgment that Jews have become a minority in the land of Israel, he added, could only reinforce the argument against Israeli rule over the Palestinians and boost international support, including the US, for a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
“It is unnecessary to dwell on what the prime minister may expect if Obama remains in the White House for four more years. But even if Mitt Romney spends the next four years there, Obama will continue to hold full presidential authority until January 20, 2013.”
Eldar pointed out the implications of the issue by citing former US President Ronald Reagan’s decision to open a dialogue with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation following the PLO’s declaration of independence on the basis of UN resolution 242. The decision, Eldar reminded his readers, was made by Reagan during the transition period after the 1988 US election, due to Reagan’s differences with Israel’s then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. Reagan believed that Shamir impeded the peace process and the London Agreement for an international peace conference.
“What damage would an outgoing President Obama do if the day after the November 6 presidential election he instructs the US ambassador to the United Nations to support Palestine’s bid to join the organisation?” A campaigning Netanyahu will not have a problem turning that into additional proof that the whole world is against Israel and so the country really needs a strong leader, he concluded.