,,,“disputes the need for panic, pointing instead to data indicating much more moderate trends” and the growth of the Jewish population throughout the country, excluding Gaza.
Michael told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the Palestinian bureau’s numbers appeared to be exaggerated, but that they did not matter so much.
“The number of Palestinians in Gaza should be excluded from the equation, because Israel has no presence there at all,” he said.
He added that it seemed the report had double-counted the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem (around 300,000), as Israel already counts them in its own census.
Furthermore, he continued, “I assume that they don’t include negative migration and that they don’t count all deaths.”
According to Michael, “the most important insight in this regard is that they have an agenda and a strategic goal – to impose a solution on Israel by recruiting international support based on delegitimization of Israel and demography.”
This strategy includes utilizing Israeli Arabs as a demographic political tool, he asserted.
Former ambassador Yoram Ettinger echoed that sentiment. Ettinger, who was the minister for congressional affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and is a member of the American-Israel Demographic Research Group, told the Post that there were many flaws in the Palestinian numbers.
Essentially, he said, the Palestinian bureau had overestimated the numbers in the West Bank by 1.1 million. As such, he contended, the report’s West Bank number of 2.83 million residents was really 1.7 million, and the claimed 1.79 million in Gaza was really 1.4 million.
There are a few key errors that the bureau has committed since it began running its census in 1997, he continued. For instance, he said, the Palestinian Authority counts the 400,000 Palestinians who have lived abroad for over a year as residents in its territory.
He said it was also important to note that the Palestinians continued to count the children of those who were erroneously included in the statistics. He cited Deputy Palestinian Interior Minister Hassan Illwi, who told the Ma’an News Agency in October that 100,000 babies born overseas were included in the bureau’s count as well.
The Palestinian statistics also claim that there is zero net migration, when in fact “there is no such thing, since it means the total number of migrants equals the number of entries,” he said.
“My team [at the American-Israel Demographic Research Group] analyzed the data of all international passages in and out of Judea and Samaria since 1997 and compared the Palestinian numbers to other Palestinian ministry numbers, including the number of deaths, as well as those from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics,” he said.
The results of that investigation showed that according to the Border Police’s daily computerized documentation of all exits and entries through the international passages, there was a net-emigration of over 20,000 people from Judea and Samaria in 2013, and a 17,000 annual average net-emigration during the preceding five years.
Furthermore, he argued, the Jewish fertility and immigration rate continued to grow, while the Arab fertility rate was slowing. Some of the factors contributing to the latter, he said, were urbanization, emigration, the use of contraceptives, and expanded education among Arab women.
Asked what might motivate the Palestinians to inflate their numbers, Ettinger said that doing so enabled them to receive more foreign aid and a greater water supply from Israel.
Like Michael, he said the Palestinians believed they could frighten Israelis into drastic concessions with a “demographic time bomb.”
However, Ettinger asserted that people no longer believed the Palestinian numbers and that an increasing number of people accepted his team’s data.
“There is no room for pessimism or fatalism – to conduct a policy driven by fear,” he declared.