Last updated on: 9/17/2010 | Author: ProCon.org

Population Statistics

  1. Background
  2. Israel/Palestine: Arab/Jewish Population (1914-2005)
  3. Jerusalem: Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Population (1910-2005)
  4. Palestine: Arab/Jewish Population (1914-1946)
  5. Israel: Arab/Jewish Population (1949 – 2006)
  6. West Bank & Gaza Strip: Arab Population (1950 – 2005)
  7. By Area: Arab/Jewish Population (2006)
  8. Population Projections: Israel/Palestine Population (2020-2050)

I. Background

The demographic composition of the Israel-Palestine region has played a major role in the events, policies and debates that have shaped the area. Early on, population figures were used to establish or deny the legitimacy of particular claims. As Ami Isseroff, Director of the MidEastWeb, notes “the Zionist claim that Palestine was ‘a land without a people’ is challenged by pro Palestinian historians who cite census figures showing a substantial Palestinian-Arab population by 1914. Zionists note that most of this increase seems to have occurred after 1880, when Jews began developing Palestine.”

In addition to these claims, population statistics were used to determine the partition plans of 1937 and 1947, as well as British immigration policy in 1939. After 1967, demographics influenced settlement policy (especially in East Jerusalem), and during the 1990s it determined the areas to be turned over to the Palestinian Authority. Other relevant considerations include the demographic impact of war (especially the wars of 1948 and 1967) and of Palestinian refugee Right of Return upon the state of Israel. Demographics will likely play a role in any future peace talks and is currently a part of Sharon’s motivation to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

History: The areas known today as Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, were in 1922 designated under the British Mandate as a single territorial unit called Palestine.

Prior to British rule, the area existed as several districts within the Ottoman Empire. (Only the inhabitants from the Ottoman districts that would become British Mandate Palestine were included in the population figures presented below).

In 1948, the British withdrew, Israel declared statehood, and the first Arab-Israeli war broke out. The armistice lines established between Israel and Jordan, and Israel and Egypt formed the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively. These territorial divisions remained until the 1967 War when Israel came to control both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as well as East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Since 1967, population figures for Israel have included the residents of East Jerusalem as well as the Jewish settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (until their removal in Aug. 2005). The population of the Golan Heights was included in the Israeli figures starting in 1982. See our complete history of these developments as told through maps.

Demographic Divisions: We have divided the population into two main ethnic groups: Jews and Arabs. For Jerusalem however, we used religious rather than ethnic designations because of the religious significance of the city to Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

Demographic Display: The demographic information below is displayed in graphs and charts. Each graph derives from the data in its corresponding chart. The accompanying maps designate the territory of focus.

Accuracy: The population statistics below are approximations. Older data is generally seen as less accurate than more modern population figures.

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II. Israel/Palestine: Arab/Jewish Population (1914-2005)

Historic Divisions of Israel/Palestine

YearJewsArabsTotal% of Jews
to Total
191460,000731,000791,0007.585%
192283,790668,258752,04811.141%
1931174,606858,7081,033,31416.897%
1941474,1021,111,3981,585,50029.902%
19501,203,0001,172,1002,375,10050.650%
19601,911,3001,340,1003,251,40058.783%
1970*2,582,0001,045,0003,627,00071.188%
19803,282,7002,100,0005,382,70060.986%
19954,495,1003,506,9008,002,00056.173%
20055,275,7005,139,10010,414,80050.656%

Sources & Notes:
Sources by Year:

1941 Esco Foundation   Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab, and British Policies Vol. 1, p.46, Yale University Press, 1947
1914 Justin McCarthy     The Population of Palestine, 1990
1922 & 1931 British Census   (Census conducted by the British Mandate Government.)
1950-2005 Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics   “Statistical Abstract of Israel 2007: Population, by Religion,” ICBS website accessed on May 6, 2010
Notes: *Decrease in the Arab population between 1960 and 1970 due to Arab refugees from the 1967 War.

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III. Jerusalem: Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Population (1910-2005)

YearJewsMuslimsChristiansTotal% of Jews
to Total
191045,00012,00012,90069,90064.377%
192234,00013,50014,60062,50054.4%
193151,00019,90019,30090,50056.353%
194699,30033,70031,400164,40060.401%
1967196,80058,10012,900267,80073.487%
1972261,10074,40011,800347,30075.179%
1983346,700112,10013,900472,70073.345%
1995486,600171,70013,900672,20072.389%
2000439,600196,90014,200657,50066.859%
2005582,700240,90015,700839,30069.427%

Sources & Notes:
Sources by Year:

1910 Bernard Wasserstein     Divided Jerusalem, p.46, Yale Nota Bene, 2002
1922 & 1931 British Census   (Census conducted by the British Mandate Government.)
1946 & 1967 Bernard Wasserstein    Divided Jerusalem, p.46, Yale Nota Bene, 2002 “Account should be taken of the changes in the municipal boundary of Jerusalem over the past century. Apparent discrepancies in the ‘total’ column reflect the presence of small numbers of persons whose religion was classified as ‘other’ or ‘unknown.'”
1972-2005 Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics   “Statistical Abstract of Israel 2007: Population by district, sub-district and religion,” ICBS website accessed on Sep. 20, 2007

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IV. Palestine: Arab/Jewish Population (1914 – 1946)

YearJewsArabsTotal% of Jews
to Total
191460,000731,000791,0007.585%
1918*59,000688,000747,0007.898%
192283,790668,258752,04811.141%
1931174,606858,7081,033,31416.897%
1941474,1021,111,3981,585,50029.902%
1944554,0001,211,0001,765,00031.388%
1946608,2251,237,3341,845,55932.956%

Sources & Notes:
Sources by Year:

1914 – 1918 Justin McCarthy     The Population of Palestine, 1990
1922 & 1931 British Census   (Census conducted by the British Mandate Government.)
1941 Esco Foundation  Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab, and British Policies Vol. 1, p.46, Yale University Press, 1947
1944 Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry  Chapter IV: Population, April 20, 1946
1946 United Nations   General Assembly, A/364, “UNSCOP Report to the General Assembly,” September 3, 1947
Notes: Decrease in population due to WWI and famine.

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V. Israel: Arab/Jewish Population (1949 – 2006)

YearJewsArabsTotal% of Jews
to Total
19491,013,900159,1001,173,00086.436%
1967*2,383,600392,7002,776,30085.855%
19732,845,000493,2003,338,20085.225%
1983**3,412,500706,1004,118,60082.855%
19903,946,700875,0004,821,70081.853%
1995***4,522,3001,004,9005,527,20081.819%
2000****4,955,4001,188,7006,144,10080.652%
2006****5,393,4001,413,3006,806,70079.237%

Sources & Notes:
Sources by Year:

1949 – 2006 Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics   “Statistical Abstract of Israel, No. 55,” 2004, and “Statistical Abstract of Israel 2007: Population by district, sub-district and religion,” ICBS website accessed on Sep. 20, 2007
Notes:  
* Starting in 1967, population figures include residents of East Jerusalem and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
** Starting in 1982, population figures include residents of the Golan Heights.
*** Starting in 1995, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) defined “Arabs” as a group including Druze, Arab Christians, and Muslims.
**** Since the year 2000 the ICBS also included 2,700 Lebanese not classified by religion.

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VI. West Bank & Gaza Strip: Arab Population (1948-2005)

YearWest BankGaza Strip
1948462,10082,500
1950*765,000240,000
1960799,000302,000
1970**677,000368,000
1980964,000497,000
19851,044,000532,288
19901,254,506642,814
19951,626,689875,231
20002,020,2981,132,063
20052,385,6151,376,289

Sources & Notes:
Sources by Year:

1948 Wael R. Ennab     “Population and Demographic Developments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip unitl 1990,” Study prepared for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 28 June 1994
1950 – 1980 Justin McCarthy     “Palestine’s Population During the Ottoman and the British Mandate Periods,” 2001
1985 – 2005 U.S. Census Bureau   “International Data Base (IDB), Country Summary: West Bank and Gaza Strip,” accessed online Sep. 19, 2007
Notes:  
* Increase in the Arab population due to Palestinian Refugees from the territory of the new state of Israel to the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the first Arab-Israeli War (1948-1949)
** Decrease in the Arab population between 1960 and 1970 due to Arab refugees from the 1967 War.

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VII. By Area: Arab/Jewish Population (2006)




 IsraelWest Bank Gaza StripTotal
Jews 5,137,8001255,6001015,393,4001
Arabs 1,439,70012,460,49221,428,75725,328,949

Sources & Notes:

Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics “Statistical Abstract of Israel 2007: Population by district, sub-district and religion,” ICBS website accessed on Sep. 20, 2007

Starting in 1995, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) defined “Arabs” as a group including, Druze, Arab Christians, and Muslims. Since the year 2000 the CBS also included 2,700 Lebanese not classified by religion.

U.S. Census Bureau “International Data Base (IDB), Country Summary: West Bank and Gaza Strip,” accessed online Sep. 19, 2007

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VIII. Population Projections: Israel/Palestine (2020-2050)

1. ISRAEL – ARABS/JEWS (2020 PROJECTION)

2. ISRAEL – ARABS/JEWS (2050 PROJECTION)

Compare to 1949-2006 statistics, see V.A. above


3. ISRAEL, WEST BANK, & GAZA (2025 PROJECTION)

4. ISRAEL, WEST BANK, & GAZA (2050 PROJECTION)

Compare to 2006 statistics, see VII.A. above

1. ISRAEL – ARABS/JEWS (2020 & 2050 PROJECTIONS)

JewsArabs
20206,697,0001,976,000
20508,780,0003,121,000

2. ISRAEL, WEST BANK, & GAZA (2025 & 2050 PROJECTIONS)

 IsraelWest Bank & Gaza
20258.8 million6.2 million
205011.2 million9.3 million

Sources:

*Graphs 1 & 2, Chart 1

Sergio DellaPergola, PhD, “Demography in Israel/Palestine: Trends, Prospects, Policy Implications,” paper presented at the XXIV International Union for the Scientific Study of Population General Population Conference, Aug. 2001

*Graphs 3 & 4, Chart 2

Evgenia Bystrov, MA, and Arnon Soffer, PhD, “Israel: Demography and Density 2007-2020,” Reuven Chaikin Chair in Geostrategy University of Haifa, www.haifa.ac.il, May 2008

Notes:

* The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics in its “Statistical Abstract of Israel 2009” available on the ICBS website (accessed Dec. 2, 2009) projected that Israel’s population in 2025 would consist of 6,506,900 (70%) Jews, 2,320,000 (25%) Arabs, and 434,800 (5%) others.

* Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid, and Michael Wise in their “Forecast for Israel and West Bank 2025” presented at the 6th Herzliya Conference in Herzliya, Israel on Jan. 23, 2006 projected that Israel would have 7.51 million Jews and 2.2 million Arabs in 2025.

* Figures from the two sources above were not represented graphically because they are relatively similar to the data already presented in section VIII.A. above and because they projected to 2025 only vs. 2020 and 2050.