Peres warns Israel losing demographic battle
Published Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday warned about diluting a Jewish majority through the ongoing colonization of the West Bank, in comments carried on Israel's main radio stations.
"Israeli settlements in densely populated Arab areas could bring about a demographic change about which we would do well to think hard about before acting," he said in remarks broadcast on both army radio and Israel public radio.
"Without a Jewish majority, it is doubtful whether a Jewish state can remain Jewish," he fretted on Tuesday evening.
His remarks were alluding to the demographic consequences of the potential annexation of the West Bank, which is home to 2.6 million Palestinians.
Peres' warning follows the publication of a report earlier this week that claimed Jews "have the legal right" to settle in the West Bank.
The report, which was written by three Israeli jurists, rejected the fact that Israel is a military occupying power in the West Bank, and said the establishment of settlements there "cannot be considered illegal" in conclusions which completely contradict international law.
Israel has continued to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem despite objections from the international community which deem them illegal.
Israel is an ethnic-centric state which classifies its people by religion, considering itself a “Jewish” state despite having a 20 percent Palestinian minority.
In total, 5.8 million Palestinians live in historic Palestine, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip, compared to 5.9 million Jews, raising fears that Israel is rapidly losing the 'demographic battle.'
Projections show Palestinians will outnumber Jews in the region, excluding the Palestinian refugees residing in neighboring Arab states who fled following the violent creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
Peres' remarks reflect a growing anxiety within Israel's left that a continued pursuit by the Israeli-right to annex West Bank will jeopardize the state's Jewish identity.
Israel's emphasis on racial and religious differentiation has drawn calls that it is operating an apartheid state.