While the international community is, for understandable reasons, fixated on the population balance between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem, a demographic war is being fought in a lower-profile part of Israel — the north.
Zionist groups have long been encouraging residents of central Israel and new immigrants to move to the north in a bid to strengthen the Jewish presence. And there is a similar interest in laying roots by some Arabs. Influxes of Arabs in to certain northern towns, such as Carmiel are taken by many locals as evidence of this.
New figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics, an agency of the Israeli government, show that if you take Haifa out of the equation, there is already an Arab majority in Northern Israel. Some 53% of residents, the bureau reported, are Arabs.
Taking a national view, today 1.49 million of Israel’s 7.3 million citizens are Arabs. The bureau predicted that in 20 years time, one in every four Israeli citizens will be Arab. These figures are important for the debate on what is known as the “bi-national” solution. As discussed in this recent Bintel Blog post, the belief across the center of Knesset is that Israel needs a peace deal that will take it out of the West Bank. Otherwise the only option left will be a single bi-national state in which, as demography runs its course, Jews will be outnumbered. Obviously, any statistical data such as this which seems to point to the changing balance between Jews and Arabs even within Israel’s pre-1967 borders will taken by advocates of this view to argue that it won’t take long for demography to run its course.
Another interesting figure in the new CBS statistics relates to the changing population balance among Arabs, discussed in this Bintel Blog from a couple of months ago. Back in 1950 one in five Arab citizens of Israel was Christian — now that number is one in 13.