Soldiers locking up Kissufim settlement gate last summer
Before the pullout from Gaza over the summer, Israel ruled over 5.1 million Palestinians, or 51 percent of the total population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
By leaving Gaza we shed responsibility for 1.4 million Palestinians. In doing so, we brought the number of Arabs under Israeli jurisdiction down to about 40 percent.
Professor Israel Aumann criticizes government policy with settlers; says territorial concessions won’t bring peace, Arab neighbors will never relinquish dream of destroying Israel
According to natural growth stats projected for the next 15 years, Arabs – including Israel's Arab citizens - are expected to be a majority in the areas currently controlled by Israel by the year 2020.
Preserving Jewish democracy
In this situation, Israel cannot continue to be a Jewish democracy. Therefore, anyone who wants to live in a Jewish, democratic country must conclude that Israel must part with additional territory that is home to overcrowded Palestinian population.
The route of the West Bank security fence was planned to leave crowded Palestinian areas on the east side of the fence and large settlement blocs on the west side.
For instance: Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and the city of Ariel contain more than 80 percent of the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria – about 180,000 Jews in eastern Jerusalem and another 170,000 in the settlement blocs.
Sooner or later, Jewish communities left on the east side of the fence – about 70,000 people, or 20 percent of the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria – will have to go.
If this happens, Israel can get to a point at which the Palestinian population under its jurisdiction is approximately 20 percent of the total population.
If we add east Jerusalem and its 300,000 Palestinians to the equation by annexing the "holy basin" to Israel, the Palestinian percentage of Israel's population drops to about 17 percent (14 percent Muslim, 3 percent Christian and Druze).
At that point, it will be possible to say the demographic threat to a Jewish, democratic state has been removed, on condition the wall is effective and prevents Palestinian migration back into Israel.
Judea, Samaria drain resources
When we separate ourselves from most of Judea and Samaria, which for 40 years have been "drawing" a significant part of the country's resources and energies, we can draw our attention and resources to other problems burning in Israel proper.
We can set about ensuring a Jewish-Zionist majority in crumbling Jerusalem; we can settle the northern Negev and the Galilee, both of which are losing their Jewish majorities and thus improve the quality of life in many areas, such as law enforcement and environmental issues that have taken a plunge in recent years.
Reading from left-to-right
Do our politicians, across the political spectrum, understand the situation? The answer is clear: Yes, they understand.
Let's look at the party platforms from left-to-right. The Meretz-Yahad and Labor parties have put the issue of territorial withdrawal at the top of their party platforms.
Over in the Kadima Party, Sharon, Olmert, Livni and friends have taken the issue as the basis of their policies. It's enough to quote one line of a letter Olmert sent to me: The time has come to stop thinking in theoretical terms and to take ethical decisions and provide real answers to ensure Israel continues to have a clear, overwhelming Jewish majority.
And what about the new Likud, headed by Netanyahu? He, too, knows the numbers, and even quoted them as prime minister and finance minister. His disengagement map was made public several years ago, and can be seen in a 1999 book by Haifa University Professor Dan Schueftan.
Even the right knows
Even the National Religious Party knows the numbers, and I believe it is prepared to join a coalition that plans to carry out more disengagements.
On the far right, in all its stripes, I can testify that they, too, are well attuned to the demographic situation, but they put forth hallucinatory solutions – such as transferring the Palestinians to Egypt or Jordan, or bringing millions of Jews from the 10 "lost tribes" to Israel - because of their unbending commitment to the total Land of Israel.
Any coalition to be headed by Kadima – be it Labor, Likud or the National Religious Party – will move, sooner or later, to Disengagement II. The settlers would do well to come to terms with it, and save themselves – and us – a lot of heart ache.
Prof. Arnon Sofer is the chair of the Geo-Strategy Department at Haifa University