David Blair
The Telegraph
February 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The Israeli Right's old ambition was to keep every inch of this territory, especially the gains of the Six Day War in 1967. But demographics now underlie every calculation and, for Israelis, the facts are deeply disturbing.

Today, their country has about 5.7 million Jewish inhabitants. Meanwhile, the West Bank, which Israel occupies, has 2.5 million Palestinians and the Gaza Strip another 1.5 million. The Arab minority within Israel itself numbers a further 1.4 million.

Altogether, about 5.7 million Jews and 5.4 million Arabs live between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. Because Arabs have more children, they will probably become the majority within a decade.

If Israel keeps all this territory, the country will face a terrible dilemma. Will it be a Jewish state, or a democracy? Once the Arabs form the majority, Israel could not be both.

"People here think of this every day. It threatens them more than Hamas or Iran," said Uri Dromi, a former prime ministerial spokesman. "If it's one man, one vote, then Israel loses its Jewish character. If not, we become an apartheid state."

Israel's only escape from this dilemma would be to divest itself of four million Arabs by allowing a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza. No Israeli politician can avoid this hard reality, not even Benjamin Netanyahu.


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