'J'lem has lost its Zionist majority'

Barkat: If borders remain unchanged, in 2020, 60% of residents will be Jewish.

jerusalem 88 (photo credit: )
jerusalem 88
(photo credit: )
Jerusalem is fast losing its Jewish majority, and has already lost its Zionist majority, Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat said Monday. The secular Jerusalem opposition leader said in an address at the Herzliya Conference that 46 percent of the city's residents are Zionist, another 20% are haredi and the remaining 34% are Arab residents. Barkat, a self-made hi-tech millionaire who was recently appointed to head Kadima's Jerusalem election campaign, noted that the government had already adjusted its long-stated goal to maintain a 70 percent Jewish majority in the city, with the government now accepting a 60 percent Jewish majority in the capital by 2020. Two-thirds of Jerusalem's 700,000 residents are Jewish, and the remaining 34% are Arab. A recent study carried out by prominent Hebrew University demographer Prof. Sergio Della Pergola predicts that if the situation - and Jerusalem's borders - remains unchanged, only 60 percent of Jerusalem's residents will be Jewish by 2020, with the remaining 40 percent Arab, while another survey found that the number of Jewish and Arabs living in the city will reach parity in a quarter century. A possible redrawing of the city's municipal borders in the coming years -- such as annexing the land between Jerusalem and the nearby west Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim to the capital, and or ceding east Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinians -- could be a major force to reverse such a trend. Barkat's remarks come as record number of Jewish residents are leaving the capital to suburban communities for better quality of life. The number of Jewish residents of Jerusalem who left the city in 2004 was the largest since the reunification of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War. 18,100 Jewish residents left the capital in 2004, up from 13,300 who quit the city the year before, according to the annual city statistics released last year by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. At the same time, 11,400 Jews moved to the city in 2004, up from 8,200 the year before, the statistics showed, leaving the overall 2004 migration level at 6,700 residents, similar to recent years. The statistics reflected an ongoing trend of Jewish migration from the city to the suburbs which began in the 1980's, and has continued unabated for the last quarter century. The primary reasons cited by people who have left the Jerusalem in years past are better job opportunities and more affordable housing available outside the city. Over the last five years, the suburban Jerusalem communities of Beit Shemesh, Beitar Ilit, Ma'ale Adumim, Modiin Ilit, Mevasseret Zion and Givat Ze'ev attracted the largest number of former Jerusalem residents, the survey found.