An extra-academic document that debunks one of the
foundations of the disengagement plan, "the demographic
bomb," was presented in Washington. The document argues that
only 2.4 million Palestinians live in Judea, Samaria and the
Gaza Strip today, and not the 3.8 million claimed by the
In sharp contrast to population studies conducted in Israel,
the document argues that Jews can easily continue to maintain
a solid percent majority between the Jordan River and the
An Israeli-American group authored the ABC Demographic
Project. The group disputes a prevailing assumption in
Israel's public debate — that Jews have ceased, or will
soon cease to be, a majority in Israeli territory.
Della Pergola, the most famous Israeli demographic expert,
called the document "groundless," politically slanted and
baseless from a research perspective. None of the authors is
a professional in demographic research.
Among its authors are former Israeli consul in Texas Yoram
Ettinger, former West Bank Civil Administration head
Brigadier General (res.) David Shahaf and former Israeli
health official Professor Ezra Zohar.
The research was initiated and funded by Los Angeles Jewish
businessman Ben Zimmerman and U.S.-based partners, historian
Dr. Roberta Seid of the University of South Carolina and
businessman Michael Wise.
The document claims that the 2004 statistic presented by the
Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics on the Palestinian
population in the territories — 3.8 million people
— is not accurate.
It doesn't incorporate emigration from PA territory, which
they estimate at hundreds of thousands, a drop in fertility,
or tens of thousands of deaths, and it includes about 200,000
residents of East Jerusalem, who are also counted in the
According to the document, Palestinian population growth was
2.4 percent in 2003, not the 4.5 percent reported by the
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. In 2003, the
population in Israel grew 1.7 percent.
PCBS data is based on a 1997 census. The figures are
controversial. Various Palestinian and foreign sources claim
that the population registry includes data on many who are
dead or living abroad.
The ABC document says that data from Israeli Border Police
indicates consistent negative emigration from the territories
of about 10,000 annually.
Its authors allege that 300,000 Palestinian expatriates live
in the in other parts of the world but nonetheless appear in
the population registry.
They note that a Norwegian research institute Fafo, situated
in Ramallah, found negative Palestinian immigration of
100,000 in 2001-2002.
Yoram Ettinger said, "The demographic issue has great
importance in shaping the approach of the administration, the
press and the public on a critical matter to the future of
Israeli society. These positions should be determined based
on facts and not distortions."
Works by Sofer and Della Pergola, based largely on data from
the PCBS, find that the Jewish population between the Jordan
River and the Mediterranean Sea is currently about 50
percent. Sofer estimates that Jews will be a minority of 40
percent in 2020, while Della Pergola maintains the figure
will be 46.7 percent (including foreign workers and non-