The Jewish population in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories now makes up less than 47 per cent of the total, according to a prominent Israeli demographer. Arnon Soffer, a Professor of Geography at Haifa University, told Army Radio yesterday that most of the Jewish Israeli population is unaware of the democratic trend moving against them which will see them ruling as a minority in the self-proclaimed "Jewish state".
Soffer came to his conclusion by taking into consideration the hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish residents in the country who are not citizens.
The academic said that there are 7.45 million Jews and others compared with 7.53 million Arab Israelis and Palestinians living in present-day Israel, the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied-West Bank.
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However, when taking into account the number of non-Israeli nationals, the Jewish proportion falls between 46 per cent and 47 per cent of the total, he explained. Soffer also pointed out that although the birth rate has been higher within the Jewish population in recent years, so too has the death rate. The implication of this is that the Arab population, which is far younger on average than the Jewish population, is growing at a faster rate.
Soffer is a lecturer at the Israeli army's Staff and Command College and has influenced a number of Israeli politicians, including former prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. He has warned previously about what some have termed a "demographic time bomb" facing Israel, having first raised the issue in the 1980s. Arabs, he said, would outnumber Jews in Israel and the Palestinian Territories by around 2010.
An opinion piece published last year by Haaretz argued that the controversial Citizenship Law would be a legal means by which Israel can maintain its Jewish majority, warning that the "loss of a Jewish majority means the end of Zionism and the disappearance of the State of Israel." The likely outcome of this, it added, would be a "single bi-national state, with an Arab majority."
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