Shtayyeh: It’s either 'demographic death' or two-states for Israel

According to the Palestinian News Agency WAFA, which carried portions of his speech, he estimated that there were 6.8 million Palestinians and 6.6 million Jews.

By
July 30, 2019 22:41
2 minute read.
Mohammad Shtayyeh gestures during a Palestinian leadership meeting in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occup

Mohammad Shtayyeh gestures during a Palestinian leadership meeting in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 20, 2019. . (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

Jews are no longer a majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh claimed on Tuesday, as he warned that Israel would suffer a “democratic death” if it did not support a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines.

Israelis have to choose between a Jewish democracy or the two-state solution, Shtayyeh told a gathering of the Socialist International in Ramallah.

According to the Palestinian News Agency Wafa, which carried portions of his speech, he estimated that there were 6.8 million Palestinians and 6.6 million Jews.

Hebrew University demographics expert Sergio Della Pergola said that he believed that the split between Jews and Palestinians was more along the lines of 50/50. He estimated that there are 6.6 million Jews and 6.3 million Palestinians, but he cautioned that was only if one counted people considered Jews according to Jewish law. If one went by Israel’s Law of Return, which recognizes patrilineal descent, Jews held a slight majority of 52/50, with a difference of 400,000 people.

“The total population between the sea and the river is now about 13.5 million,” Della Pergola said, noting that this includes nine million Israelis and 4.5 million Palestinians.

“This has been true for several years,” and will continue to be true in the future, he said. Initial projections had speculated that the number of Palestinians would be greater than the number of Jews, but the growth in the haredi population has kept the situation at parity, he said. “The present equilibrium is not going to change very much. If you subtract Gaza, the equation becomes 60/40. Demography is identity and it is also politics.”

Shtayyeh’s comments came in advance of an anticipated visit to the region by US envoy Jared Kushner, who is expected to hold talks about the political component of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

The Palestinians have rejected it sight unseen, fearful that it will deviate from long recognized international parameters and understandings.

In his speech, Shtayyeh called the Trump administration “stupid” for thinking it could pressure the Palestinian people to surrender by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, transferring the embassy there, closing the PLO’s Washington office, and cutting financial assistance to the PA.

“What is happening is dangerous for the future of Palestine, the region and the world,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not a partner in peace, Shtayyeh said, explaining that under his rule, Israel had “stolen” Palestinian lands and killed Palestinian sons.

The Palestinian leadership decided to suspended its agreements and is studying how to execute that decision.

“We are peace seekers who are committed to all agreements, but it is not reasonable to remain a committed party while the other party is not committed in any way,” Shtayyeh said, according to Wafa.


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