New Demographic & Electoral Analysis

PERCEIVED ‘demographic bomb’ threatening Israel turns out to be Israel’s political trump card

WASHINGTON, DC – A new report presented today in Washington by the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) provides the first fully integrated demographic and electoral districting analysis of Israel and the West Bank and offers a breakthrough for political discussions.

Israel is seriously considering electoral reform. Last week the Megidor Commission, established by Israel’s president, adopted a single compromise proposal where half of Israel’s parliament would be elected under the current political system, and half under a new districting system.

The AIDRG report, A New Demographic, Electoral, and Political Paradigm for Israel, presents a full set of electoral options allowing Israel to unlock its capacity to absorb additional minority populations while concurrently increasing the stability and control of its Jewish electoral majority. With this extra capacity to offer citizenship to Palestinians living in the West Bank, Israel can utilize its democratic system to develop peace initiatives.

A Democracy Considering Incremental Additions

Under Israel’s current proportional representation system minority parties are provided with a “spoiler” role since they can make demands before joining with larger parties to form a governing coalition. With the system already unstable, the spectre of incorporating a large number of new Arabs voters was perceived to be unreasonable.

The AIDRG, led by Bennett Zimmerman, uncovered the fact that Israel has demographic strength that had not been recognized in the past. Of the combined population of Israel and the West Bank, 67% of the people are Israeli Jewish citizens, 14% are Israeli Arab citizens living in pre-1967 Israel, and 3% are eastern Jerusalem residents with permanent Israeli residency rights and the right to apply for citizenship. The remaining 16% are West Bank Arabs. This new AIDRG study shows that the incremental inclusion of this group would have a smaller impact on Israel’s democracy than previously believed.

By understanding the West Bank zone by zone, AIDRG finds that Israel can begin a rational discussion on where, when, and if it makes sense to extend Israel’s democratic system in a modular fashion to adjacent Arab populations. Israel, a diverse society, never adopted electoral districting which has allowed other diverse countries such as the United States to resolve issues freely and democratically at a local level while the consensus still rules at the national level.

AIDRG presented a step-by-step analysis of each zone in the West Bank, demonstrating that Israel can analyze the impact of each zone while considering territorial and security needs. This decision must be evaluated against alternatives for governance of this same neighboring population by the Palestinian Authority, by a third party such as Jordan, or by intervention of the international community.

AIDRG’s Contribution: Improving Accuracy of Regional Demographic Data

The team’s analysis, presented Wednesday during a briefing hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), explores the step-by-step territorial and security scenarios proposed by both the political left and right in Israel. They find that incorrect demographic assumptions, which had forced Israel to choose between security and democracy, can be removed from the political discussions. Israel has always strived to be a strong democracy and ensure its absolute security since its founding and the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 led to enormous challenges which can now be resolved.

AEI hosted an earlier AIDRG landmark presentation, ‘The Million Person Gap: Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza.” which revealed that the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) radically inflated its West Bank population figure, claiming 2.4 million Arab inhabitants when there were only 1.4 million. AIDRG found the PCBS included long-term residents living abroad, Jerusalem Arabs counted by Israel, estimated birth for these non-resident groups, and finally added estimates for mass immigration while not accounting for emigration over that period.

Subsequently, the PCBS made the first-ever change to its 1997 model, removing three quarters of a million persons from its 2015 population estimate for both the West Bank and Gaza. Most of this number comprised hypothetical immigrants falsely projected by the Palestinian Arab bureau to arrive in the West Bank.

Demographic data are expected to play an important role in the discussions at the annual 7th Herzliya Conference – bringing together Israel’s top military and political leaders and academics – later this month in Israel. At the 6th Herzliya Conference, where the group made its first presentation last year, the AIDRG’s “Forecast for Israel and West Bank 2025” found that Israel’s own statistics bureau underestimated Jewish fertility and dramatically overestimated Arab fertility for each of the past six years. ICBS recently acknowledged the need to recast Israel’s own forecast. The group made its headway by corroborating results, over and over again, until the establishment had to acknowledge there was mistake. This year, the group brings with it a “Demographic Watchdog Report” highlighting a series of moves Israel might take to insure transparency, accuracy, and professional review of static forecasts that have been presented to the government and have been highly influential with the route of the separation fence that often cuts dramatically through communities to achieve a rigid demographic goal.

The AIDRG study showed Jews to be a 67% majority in Israel and the West Bank. The proposed electoral reforms would allow Israel to choose from many new democratic options towards resolving the conflict whether the proposals come form the left or the right.

As a diverse team of professionals and academics who hold multiple views on how to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, the AIDRG has come together to ensure data accuracy so that all political discussions address the realities of the populations on the ground so that Israel’s citizenry can debate and choose from many different options.

About American-Israel Demographic Research Group

The American-Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) is led by Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid, Michael L. Wise, and Yoram Ettinger. They are authors of Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza: The Million Person Gap, recently published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Israel. Their report Forecast for Israel and West Bank 2025 debuted at the 6th Herzliya Policy Conference in Israel and in the USA at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. The studies can be found at

January 20, 2007 | Comments Off on THE FOURTH WAY – ANNEX JUDEA AND SAMARIA

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