Demography, social prosperity, and the future of sovereign Israel

Uzi Rebhun*, Gilad Malach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The expanding recognition of the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ostensibly removes an immediate demographic threat to Israel that the Arab inhabitants between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River will soon outnumber the Jews. The demographic and social concern of maintaining the character of the State of Israel as the place where the Jewish people can realize their right to self-determination and can ensure a solid Jewish majority should be directed inward. Israel also wishes to continue to be a prosperous and developed country. This paper examines the changing proportions and characteristics of specific population subgroups and their effect on Israel's future as a Jewish and prosperous state. Further it argues that the demographic composition does not allow Israel to accept the demand for the 'right of return' whereas the two-state solution should involve the settlement of the Palestinian refugees in the new Palestinian state. The article discusses broader meanings of the demographic dimension for the Jewish and Arab populations in Israel.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)177-200
Number of pages24
JournalIsrael Affairs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper draws heavily on our position paper ‘Demographic Trends in Israel’, The Metzilah Center for Zionist, Jewish, Liberal and Humanist Thought, Jerusalem, 2009. The study was supported by a grant from the Tikvah Fund. Unless otherwise stated, all data are adopted from publications of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (hereafter, CBS). We are grateful to Ruth Gavison for reading earlier drafts of this paper and making valuable suggestions. This paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, Dallas, TX, 15–17 April 2010. Responsibility for the contents of this article rests solely with the authors.


  • Demography
  • Jews
  • Non-jews
  • Population projections
  • Religiosity


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