Figures released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics on Monday suggest that Palestinians will outnumber Israeli Jews in historic Palestine within the next two years. The results of the Palestinian census, released on the occasion of the end of 2014, show a number of other surprising figures that highlight the wide-ranging changes in demography the Holy Land is experiencing.
estimated that at the end of 2014 the total number of Palestinians in
"historical Palestine" -- meaning the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the
territory where the State of Israel is located but which often referred
to as '48 Palestine -- is around 6.08 million, compared to 6.10 million
Jews as of the beginning of 2014. By the end of 2016, however,
the census bureau estimates that at current rates the number of
Palestinians will eclipse that of Jews, meeting at around 6.42 million. By
2020 the statistics show that the number of Palestinians will
hit 7.14 million, while the Jewish population will have only reached
around 6.87 million.
The demographic shift was expected to happen
years ago, but the migration of more than a million people to Israel
from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s -- a large percentage of whom
were not Jews, but were naturalized anyways due to the fact that they
had Jewish relatives -- delayed the change.
The census bureau surveyed not only historic Palestine, but also included Palestinians around the world in its results. The
bureau estimates that the total number of Palestinians worldwide as of
the end of 2014 is 12.10 million, "of whom 4.62 million are in State of
Palestine, 1.46 million in Israel, 5.34 million in Arab countries, and
around 675 thousand in foreign countries."
The statistics show
the continuing impact of the Nakba -- or the expulsion of 750,000
Palestinians from what is now Israel into refugee camps elsewhere -- on
the distribution of the Palestinian population, as well as the recurrent
displacements and widespread flight since then as the result of the
1967 occupation and the effects of the occupation.
Of the 4.6
million living in the State of Palestine, the bureau estimated that
around 2.83 million reside in the West Bank and 1.79 million in Gaza
"Palestinian refugees make up 43.1 percent of the
Palestinian population in Palestine: 38.8 percent of them in the West
Bank and 61.2 percent in Gaza Strip," the reported added, underscoring
that even within the State of Palestine itself, refugees and their
descendants from the 1948 expulsions make up a sizable number.
The report also compred birth rates among the Palestinian populations
spread around the world, highlighting the drastic declines in fertility
rates that characterized trends in the State of Palestine. "The
average household size in Palestine was 5.2 persons in 2013 compared to
6.4 in 1997: 4.9 persons in the West Bank and 5.8 persons in Gaza
Strip," the report said. "The total fertility rate declined
during 2011-2013 to 4.1 births compared with 6.0 births in 1997. In Gaza
Strip the rate was 4.5 births compared to 3.7 births in the West Bank
during 2011-2013," it added. The rates are significantly higher than Palestinian refugees living abroad, where rates are comparatively lower.
total fertility rate for Palestinian woman living in Jordan was 3.3
births in 2010 compared to 2.5 in Syria in 2010 and 2.8 in Lebanon in
2011," the report said. Palestinian citizens of Israel also had
birthrates comparatively lower than the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,
with averages around 3.4 births per woman. However, the number was
higher than Israeli Jews, who have an average of around 3.1 births. "The
number of Palestinians living in Israel is 1.46 million, of whom about
35.4% are aged below 15 years compared to 4.3% aged 65 years and over,"
the report noted.