TEL AVIV (Realist English). About 9.7 million people live in Israel, about 74% of whom are Jews, and 21% are Arabs. Such data is provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel. The share of the Jewish population has been gradually decreasing since 2009, when it was 80%, while the share of the Arab population has increased over this period.
According to Feras Abu Helal, editor-in-chief of the Arabi 21 news site, “For many rightwing Israelis, the shifting demographics pose a major concern – particularly the declining majority of Jews across historic Palestine, which includes the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip…”
“Population parity has long been a core issue in Israeli politics. For some, it represents a dilemma for the country’s so-called democracy, because a true democracy cannot exclude a group of people based on their race or ethnicity. Yet, if Palestinians become the majority and gain the right to vote across historic Palestine, then Israel’s status as a “Jewish state” would be threatened,” Helal believes.
The Arab expert reminds that “The two-state solution has been proposed as the only way to solve this dilemma, but the far-right politicians who have dominated Israeli politics in recent years do not accept this strategy.” “Thus, the notion of expelling Palestinians from their homeland has been gaining prominence in the country’s political discourse,” Helal sums up.
In December 2022, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a government that included ultranationalists Itamar Ben-Gvir of the Jewish Power Party and Bezalel Smotrich of the Religious Zionist party. Both are considered students of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose party was banned in the Knesset in the 1980s and recognized as a terrorist one in the United States, Israel, the EU and Canada. By the way, in 2021, Smotrich told the Knesset that David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, should have “finished the job” and expel all Arabs from the country back in 1948.