Arab majority in 'historic Palestine' after 2014

The Arab population in "historic Palestine" will equal the Jewish population by 2014, and quickly outstrip it thereafter, Palestinian statistics released Thursday said.

The figures published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics show the Arab population in Israel, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip nearing the size of the Jewish population, but with a significantly higher birth rate.

The bureau said the Arab population in the occupied West Bank and Gaza currently stands at 4.1 million, with another 1.4 million Arabs living inside Israel.

That gives a total not far short of the 5.8 million Jews living in the same area, according to current Israeli data.

"The number of Palestinians (Arabs) will reach that of Jewish residents by the end of 2014, around 6.1 million, at the current growth rate," the Palestinian bureau said.

It noted that the birth rate in the Palestinian territories is currently 32.8 per thousand residents, as compared to 26.2 per thousand in Israel.

The bureau put the current number of Palestinian refugees living overseas at 5.6 million, primarily in Arab countries.

A number of Israelis have advanced the "demographic" argument to push for a two-state solution, warning that without a resolution, the growing Arab population will erase Israel's character as a Jewish state.

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