Palestinian protesters wave Palestinian flags as Israelis carrying Israeli flags walk past in front of the Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem's Old City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There are 12.7 million Palestinians worldwide as 2016 comes to a close, the Palestinian Authority Central Bureau of Statistics said in an annual report published on Thursday.
According to the Ramallah- based bureau, there are 2.97 million Palestinians in the West Bank, 1.91 million in the Gaza Strip, 1.53 million in Israel (Arab-Israelis), 5.59 million in the Arab world and 696,000 in the broader international community.
The bureau also reported that the total fertility rate in the West Bank and Gaza has decreased continuously over the past two decades; the fertility rate stood at 5.9 births per woman in 1999 compared to 4.6 in 2007 and 4.1 between 2011 and 2013.
The average household size in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has decreased as well, with 6.1 Palestinians per household in 2000 in contrast to 5.2 per household in 2015.
Despite the decrease in the fertility rate and household size, the bureau projected that there will be more Arabs between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea than Jews in 2018.
There are currently 6.41 million Arab-Israelis and Palestinians and 6.45 million Jews in Israel, and there will be 6.76 million Arab-Israelis and Palestinians and 6.7 million Jews in 2018, according to the bureau.
In 2015, the bureau made a similar projection that the number of Arab-Israelis and Palestinians will exceed that of Jews in Israel.
Some demographers see the projections as exaggerated.
Wahid Abdel Magid, an Egyptian scholar, has predicted that Arab-Israelis and Palestinians may become the majority in Israel by 2035, and will absolutely become the majority in 2048.
Many Israelis fear Israel would no longer be able to define itself as Jewish and democratic if demographic trends continue as they currently stand and a final status agreement, which would include creating a Palestinian state, is not reached.