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(photo credit: AP)
The capital's Arab population has increased at more than twice the rate of its Jewish inhabitants over the last decade, according to a survey released by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies on Monday.
By 2020, if current trends continue, 60 percent of Jerusalem residents will be Jews, while the remaining 40% will be Arabs.
The city's population is currently 720,000, 66% Jews and 34% Arabs.
Its population has increased by 170% from 300,000 since it was reunified in the Six Day War. In the last four decades, the Arab population of Jerusalem has grown by 257% (from 68,000 residents to 245,000) while the number of Jewish inhabitants has increased by 140% (from 200,000 to 475,000), the survey shows.
The Arab growth rate over the last decade was 3-4%, the survey found, more than double that for Jews.
"If these trends continue, we could reach the 60/40 rate by 2020, and by 2035 we could see the same number of Jews and Arabs in the city," senior institute researcher Dr. Miya Hoshen said.
Tens of thousands of Israelis continue to migrate from the city to the suburbs, a trend that began in the 1980s.
Over the last five years, the suburbs of Beit Shemesh, Betar Ilit, Ma'ale Adumim, Modi'in Ilit, Mevaseret Zion and Givat Ze'ev have attracted the largest numbers of former Jerusalemites.
Among the main reasons cited by those who have left the city are better job opportunities and more affordable housing.
A recent study carried out by Hebrew University demographer Prof. Sergio Della Pergola also predicts that if Jerusalem's borders remain unchanged, only 60% of the capital's residents will be Jews by 2020, with the remaining 40% Arab, while another survey projected that the number of Jewish and Arabs living in the city will reach parity in a quarter century.
A possible redrawing of the municipal borders - such as annexing land between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim in Judea, or ceding east Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinian Authority - could be a major factor in reversing such trends, according to city officials.