A new population census report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) says that 4.7 million Palestinians currently live in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.
According to the figures, which were published on Wednesday in Ramallah, there are 2,881,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, while 1,900,000 live in the Gaza Strip.
The figures confirm the statistics that were cited on Monday by Israel’s Deputy Commander of the Israel Civil Administration (COGAT) illustrating that the number of Jews and Muslims living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea had almost reached parity.
Col. Haim Mendes presented the fresh numbers to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and sparked outrage from nationalist lawmakers who expressed their disbelief, and rebuffed his conclusions for being based on Palestinian findings.
The Palestinian statistics, which show that 4,780,000 Palestinians live in the narrow area, were officially published by head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Ala Awed in the presence of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.
Also present at the presentation of the report were PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and other senior officials.
Moreover, the number of Palestinians living in eastern Jerusalem, according to the report, stands at 435,000. The total number of Palestinians who are registered as refugees in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem stands at 1,980,000 and 98 percent for the Palestinians are Muslim.
Christian Palestinians account for one percent of the overall Palestinian population and the unemployment rate for Gaza and the West Bank is 26%. Four percent of Palestinians were recorded in the report as being illiterate.
The data also concludes that the average number of people in a Palestinian family is 5.1. Gaza is considered one of the most overcrowded areas in the world, where every square kilometer contains an average of 5,200 people, compared to 509 in the West Bank.
By comparison, according to Israel’s CBS, in 2016, the average Israeli family contained 3.7 members, a figure that remained unchanged for the past decade.
The figures for the same year concluded that 6.56 million Jews and 1.84 million Muslim lived inside Israel within the Green Line.
A report for 2018 indicated a slight increase in the number of Jews living in Israel, taking a small leap to 6.9 million, while the number of Muslims, according to the report, remained exactly the same as in 2016.
Combining the Muslim populations spread beyond and within the Green Line, there are 6.6 million in total.
Ramallah also said that there are 929,000 Palestinian families, 393,000 of which live in Area C of the West Bank.
The West Bank also contains, the report concludes, 627,000 buildings and more than a million apartments. Disabled people account for 5.8% of the population.
After Mendes presented the statistics, Arab MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) asserted that Israel could soon have an Arab prime minister.
"The vision of an Arab prime minister, which now looks like a delusional idea, is drawing near. And then this will be an equal and democratic country, and not a Jewish and democratic one," Tibi said.
The following day, Israel's leading demographics expert defended Mendes's figures.
Sergio Della Pergola, a demographer from Jerusalem's Hebrew University, said the numbers of Arabs and Jews are nearly equal when you factor in the population of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem along with the population of Israel.
Members of Israel’s Right flank dismissed the figures as being deliberately inflated, but leader of the Zionist Union camp, Avi Gabbay, said that the data should serve as a red flag and guide Israel’s approach to the peace process.
“We’re talking about 5 million Palestinians who aren't going anywhere, despite the wonderful support by Trump, Pence and now Bolton.,” Gabbay said. “The responsibility to separate from them is ours only.”
MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) responded to the revelations on her Twitter account, using the figures to attack the notion of annexing the West Bank, a policy advocated by some by Israel’s Right.
“If we don’t wake up from the delusions of annexation, we will lose the Jewish majority. It’s that simple,” she wrote.
Responding to Livni, MK Yehudah Glick (Likud) ridiculed the figures, rejecting them has unrealistic and delusional.
“To build a theory based these facts is akin to believing that the Oslo Accords will bring about peace, or that (Shimon) Peres is still leading in the polls or that the Zionist Union camp headed by Isaac Herzog is going to establish a government,” Glick wrote.
“These are beliefs that, regrettably for you, are time and again slapped in the face by reality,” he added.