Palestinians and Israeli Jews to reach equal number by 2016, data shows

By Haaretz Service – 13 May 2009

The Jewish and Arab populations in Israel and the Palestinian territories will reach an equal number by 2016, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

The data, which was published as part of a special study to mark 61 years since Israel’s independence ? or Naqba, as referred to by Palestinians ? cites a growth of more than nine million self-identified Palestinians since 1948.

There were 1.4 million Palestinians recorded in the area in 1948, whereas by 2008 the number of self-identified Palestinians worldwide hit a census of 10.6 million.

According to the Bureau, 5.1 million of those who call themselves Palestinians reside in Israel or the Palestinian territories. Currently, there are 5.6 million Jews living in Israel.

Palestinian refugees worldwide comprise 44.3 percent of the self-identified population. Some 16.3 percent living in the West Bank, 23 percent in the Gaza Strip, 41.8 percent in Jordan, 9.9 percent in Syria and 9 percent in Lebanon. According to the data, one-third of Palestinian refugees live in camp enclaves.

The bureau’s data relies on the fact that many Israeli Arabs also identify themselves as Palestinians.

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