By Ambassador (ret) Yoram Ettinger
The July 11, 2016 statistics, published by the Palestinian Authority - claiming that Jews are a minority west of the Jordan River – is a classic case of “lies, damn lies and statistics.” This practice – which manipulates statistics in order to misrepresent reality and mislead observers - has been employed, deliberately and systematically, by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), despite a powerful Jewish demographic tailwind and a rapid Westernization of Muslim demography west of the Jordan River, and throughout the Muslim World other than the Sub-Sahara region.
The misuse of statistics, by the Palestinian Authority, has afflicted Israel and its supporters with unwarranted demographic pessimism/fatalism. The aim has been to cajole Israeli policy-makers into a false assumption that conceding the Jewish geography of the over-towering mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, is a prerequisite to securing Jewish demography.
In spite of Palestinian statistics, and the display of gross negligence by the international establishment - which accepts the PCBS and all other central bureaus of statistics at face-value without proper auditing – in July, 2016, there is a solid, long-term, 66% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel, benefitting from an unprecedented robust tailwind of Jewish fertility and migration. Moreover, in July, 2016, there is a gap of 1.15 million people between the PCBS contended number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria (2.9 million) and the well-documented number (1.75 million).
How has the PCBS manipulated its population statistics?
The initial Palestinian smoke and mirror performance occurred during the June, 1997 (first) Palestinian census in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, with the artificial addition of 648,000 people. The census was conducted by the Palestinian Authority, which was concerned that the arrival in Israel of one million Soviet Jews, could dispel the myth of “the Arab demographic time bomb,” thus ending the Jewish nightmare of becoming a minority west of the Jordan River.
The 1997 Palestinian population census in Judea, Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza was puffed by the inclusion of 325,000 overseas residents, as documented by the PCBS’ website; the double-count of 210,000 Jerusalem Arabs, who were also included in the Israeli census; and the documented inconsistencies (of 113,000 people) between the PCBS, on the one hand, and the Palestinian departments of health, education and the Central Election Commission, on the other hand.
Moreover, in 1996, the population data of the Palestinian Central Election Commission (2.146 million) and Departments of Health and Education (2.270 million) were dramatically lower than the 1997 census (2.783 million), but almost identical to those of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (2.111 million), which validated its numbers against the number of newly-issued ID cards and the immunization of all ages.
Demonstrating the creativity of Palestinian statistics, the Head of the PCBS, Hassan Abu Libdeh, admitted at a February 26, 1998 press conference in El-Bireh that – in violation of international standards – “we counted 325,000 people (13% of the total population!) living outside the Palestinian lands for more than one year.”
Furthermore, the inclusion of overseas residents in official counts has been also practiced by other Palestinian agencies. For instance, according to an October 14, 2004 press release by the Central Election Commission, 200,000 overseas residents were included in the (last) Palestinian election in 2005. 350,000 overseas residents were included in the Palestinian statistics, according to a 1993 study by the World Bank.
Explaining the inconsistencies between the PCBS and other Palestinian departments, Louie Shabanah, a former Head of the PCBS stated during a June 8, 2005 debate at Haifa’s Technion: “The Palestinian Health Department accounts for less births because – unlike the PCBS – it excludes overseas births….”
The aforementioned statistical bloats expand annually due to births, hence the widening 1.15 million gap in Judea and Samaria in 2016, which consists of:
*400,000 overseas residents, as reaffirmed by Hassan Ilwi, the Palestinian Undersecretary of the Interior: “Since 1995, we have registered about 100,000 children born abroad.”
*300,000 Jerusalem Arabs, who bear Israeli ID cards are doubly-counted as Israelis and as West Bankers.
*240,000 net-emigration of Judea and Samaria Arabs has been documented by Israel’s Border Police since the 1997 Palestinian census.
*Over 100,000 (mostly Judea and Samaria) Arabs have married Israeli Arabs since 1997, receiving Israeli ID cards, but are still (doubly) counted as West Bankers. In November, 2003, the Knesset passed a statue, terminating the automatic receipt of Israeli ID cards upon marrying an Israeli citizen.
*110,000 result from an inherent under-documentation of deaths (represented by the inclusion of Arabs born in 1847 in the June 2007 census…) and over-documentation of births (represented by a World Bank study, documenting a 32% gap between its own births documentation and the PCBS’ births statistics).
In 2016, Israel’s Jewish fertility rate (3.15 births per woman) is higher than all Arab countries, other than Sudan, Yemen and Iraq, reflected in a unique 75% increase in the number of births from 1995 (80,400) to 2015 (139,000), irrespective of the moderate decline in the fertility of the ultra-orthodox women, but due to the unprecedentedly robust secular (Yuppie) fertility. The norm of 1-2 births per woman among secular folks, twenty years ago, has now shifted into a norm of 3-4 births!
Recent demographic trends expose the unreliability of Palestinian statistics. They bode-well for Israel’s posture in the negotiation process with the Palestinian Authority, but mostly for Israel’s economy and national security, which will benefit from an exceptionally high natural growth (quantitatively and qualitatively), compared to all other advanced economies, which may have to rely on foreign workers in order to sustain their economic growth.