The Israeli-Palestinian Numbers Game

Jun 04, 2009
*Special to asia!

Two races living under existential threats have created a climate of injustice for the Israeli-Arabs, where the law under which they live, is now being turned against them. In East Jerusalem, they are finding themselves being squeezed out of the very place they are claiming as their capital in a final two-state solution.

(For the purposes of clarity, the Arab-Israeli population in Jerusalem with Israeli identification will be named as “Arabs” and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank as “Palestinians”. It should however be noted that Israeli-Arabs also call themselves Palestinians and consider “Israeli-Arabs” as an occupational term used by Israel.)

When the State of Israel was established in 1948, it was to serve as a homeland and refuge for Jews, a historically-persecuted people, who had less than a decade ago, been massacred in the Holocaust.

The threat of extermination remained in the consciousness of Jews. Today, politicians and academics alike continue to pore over Israel's viability, particularly as a Jewish State. Some estimate that the Jewish population may by 2050, in less than two generations, lose its majority status in Israel.



tree along the walls of the Old City

The shadow of history looms large here in Jerusalem and Israel for both Jews and Arabs, just like that of this tree along the walls of Old City.


Jewish women have an average of 2.7 children each, while Arab ones have about four. At this rate, by the middle of this century, the combined Arab population in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza will match the Jewish population in Israel itself. That is not considering the3 million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, waiting to return.

This is what Israel will look like if the two-state solution does not materialise.

Having foreseen this potential threat to Jewish majority, successive Israeli governments since 1967 - when Jerusalem was annexed from Jordan and unified under the State of Israel – have taken steps to avoid it.


In Separate and Unequal: the Inside Story of Israeli Rule in East Jerusalem by Amir Cheshin et al, an advisor to two Jerusalem mayors, Teddy Kollek and Ehud Olmert, 


“(In 1967), Israel’s leaders adopted two basic principles in their rule of East Jerusalem. The first was to rapidly increase the Jewish population in East Jerusalem. The second was to hinder growth of the Arab population and to force Arab residents to make their homes elsewhere.


“ ...In Jerusalem, Israel turned urban planning into a tool of the government, to be used to help prevent the expansion of the city’s non-Jewish population... Israel saw the adoption of strict zoning plans as a way of limiting the number of new homes build in Arab neighborhoods, and thereby ensuring that the Arab percentage of the city’s population – 28.8 in 1967 – did not grow beyond this level.


“The idea was to move as many Jews as possible into East Jerusalem, and move as many Arabs as possible out of the city entirely. Israeli housing policy in East Jerusalem was all about this numbers game.”


dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

Contact Dan-Chyi