Population and Demographics

THE ISSUE

Population and Demographics

Demography: Israel’s Arab population comprises 20.6% of the total population, or around 1,600,000 people. Of this population, around 82% are Muslim (including the Bedouins), 10% are Christian, and 8% are Druze. This total population figure includes approximately 300,000 Arabs living in East Jerusalem and 21,000 Druze residing in the Golan Heights that have residency but not full citizenship.

Fertility rates have declined over time among all Arab groups, and gaps between Arabs and Jews have diminished to 3.3 children among Arabs in 2011 compared to 3.0 children among Jews.  The fertility rate of both Druze (2.3) and Christian Arabs (2.2) is now below the rate of Jews. Almost 50% of Israel’s Arab population is under the age of 19, compared with around 33% of the Jewish population. According to projections by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the Arab and Druze population will grow to 22% of the total population by 2025 and 22.9% of the total population in 2035.

Geography: For the most part, Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel live in separate localities (homogeneous towns and villages that are either jewish or Arab). The vast majority of Arab citizens live in Israel’s periphery, with 57% in the Haifa, Galilee and the northern region, 19% in Jerusalem, and 13% in the Negev. The three largest Arab towns in Israel are Nazareth in the Lower Galilee (population around 74,000), the Bedouin town of Rahat in the Negev (population around 57,000), and Umm El- Fahm in the northern Triangle (population around 50,000).

Israel has five cities traditionally referred to as “mixed cities.” These cities have a substantial Arab population living alongside the Jewish majority (e.g. Acre with 30% Arab residents, Jaffa with 30%, Lod with 28%, Ramleh with 21%, and Haifa with 11%,). In recent years due to the development of an Arab middle class and due to shortage of housing solutions in Arab localities, new mixed cities are forming, including Upper Nazareth, Karmiel and Beer Sheva.


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