The demography of the Israeli-Palestinian tensions

 

Statistics speaks of an equal Jewish and Palestinian presence from the Mediterranean to the Jordan river. A parity that is only numerical and not political. 

Last Monday, the vice commander of Israel’s Civil Administration – Col. Haim Mendes – presented to the Knesset the latest data on demography in the West Bank, that point to a presence of 5 million Palestinians there. To this figure, it is then to be added the 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza and the 1.8 million living within Israel.

According to this data, there are 7,8 million Palestinians between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river, vis-à-vis a Jewish population that the Israeli Bureau of Statistics put to 6,5 million last September.

Unsurprisingly, these data have immediately sparked debates within the Knesset. Demography, in fact, has always been a highly sensitive topic in this area of the world, where it is called into question by both sides to justify their rivendications: the Jews refer to it to justify the existence and the expansion of the State of Israel; the Palestinians to legitimze their claim to a Palestinian State.

Thus, while right-wing politicians promptly moved to condemn the inaccuracy of data that Mendes seemingly retrieved from the Palestinian Bureau of statitics and would therefore be of dubious objectivity, the exponents of the Joint List have argued that such data do not rveeal anything new if not the undeniable presence of a Palestinian population that resides from the Mediterranean shores to the banks of the Jordan river that it is not possible to ignore further.

On the background of these lates figures, the debate that emerges on both fronts concerns the future of the State of Israel and its survivability as “Jewish” and “democratic” entity if it continues to occupy Palestinian territories. A debate that came back to the fore last month with further steps taken towards the inclusion in the State’s Basic Law of a bill that defines Israel as “State for the Jewish people”. Something that triggers not a few doubts and fears on the space that would be reserved to Israel’s non-Jewish population and its civil rights.

With the prospect of reaching a two-State solution ever more remote under the joint moves of Bibi’s far-right coalition ad Trump’s pro-Israel administration, the question of how Israel will resolve in future its inherent contradiction between “Jewishness” and “democracy” appeares increasingly pressing.

To date, the path along which the country seems to be moving looks more like that of a unitary State in which – besides statistical data – a group dominates heavily over the other.


Published in Italian for Limes http://www.limesonline.com/numero-di-palestinesi-in-cisgiordania-israele-gaza-sopasso-demografia/105707

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martafurlan

Hi! My name is Marta Furlan. I am from Italy and was born in Milan in 1993. I speak five languages, my main areas of interest are the Middle East and Islamist terrorism and my great passion is traveling. I'm majoring in Foreign Languages for International Relations at the Catholic University. Last year I attended a summer course at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on the role of Israel in the Middle East, and have recently had been working in South Africa at the Chamber of Commerce in Johannesburg. I am currently completing my thesis on the development of jihadist terrorism by Al Qaeda in ISIS. Follow my blog if you have a strong interest in International Relations, especially Middle East.

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