The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday projected that Israel’s Arab population will match its Jewish population by 2016 and surpass it by 2020.
Year-end Israeli population data for 2012 said that 6 million Jews live in the country, compared with the 5.8 million Arabs the Palestinian bureau said live in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem, the Associated Press reported. By 2020, Arabs will outnumber Jews by 7.2 million to 6.9 million, according to the Palestinian bureau.
The Palestinian bureau’s calculations, however, have been called into question in the past. In February 2005, the bureau released a study by al-Aqsa University professor Yousef Ibrahim that said the Arab population of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem would reach 6.3 million by 2010. That projection, however, is 500,000 lower than what the bureau on Tuesday said is the current Arab population.
Pre-1967 counts of Palestinian Arabs were known to be rough estimates, as opposed to Israel’s scientific population counts. In 1997, the Palestinians’ first independent census cited a 29-percent Arab population increase over a four-year period, which demographers said far outpaced conventional population growth.