A representative of the military government, so-called the “Civil Administration”, in the West Bank presented a report to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, stating that the number of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip reached 5 million. In addition to 300,000
in occupied Jerusalem, Palestinians in Israel totalled 1.53 million. This means that a total of 6.8 million Palestinians live in historic Palestine. By contrast, the Jews who are recognised as such stood at 6.5. There are also some 300,000 people, whose Jewishness is not recognised by the religious establishment,
In his report, the military officer was said to have cited data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. This data stirred up a heated debate among MKs of the settler right wing, who claimed that the report was overstated and that the Palestinian Authority overestimated the number by approximately half a million Palestinians. On the other hand, MKs of the right and centre right parties, including the Labour and Yesh Atid (There is a Future) embraced the report. These viewed the report it as evidence of the failure of the settler right wing’s enterprise and policy which lead to the “one state”. As they put it, one state ensures that Jewishness of the state is liquidated.
The report was also supported by Sergio Della Pergola, a leading Israeli demographer. In an article published in Maariv, Pergola said that the data presented at the Knesset meeting were so close to reality. However, “we should be specific about the figure 300,000 Palestinians. Even though they are registered as residents of the (occupied) territory, these Palestinians actually live in other countries in the Middle East and in the West.” Pergola explained. “Based on this modest modification, the number of the Jewish and Arab populations are equal to some extent,” he went on. “A slight Jewish majority is still there according to the definition of the Jew under the Law of Return, not according to the Jewish jurisprudence [meaning the 300,000 people who are not recognised as Jews]. This simple majority will decrease, and even disappear, in years to come due to the higher natural growth rate among the Palestinians,” Pergola concluded.