There is an Alternative!
(To Another Unilateral Withdrawal)

Article Summary:

It has become evident to the Israeli public that there is not, and will not be, a partner for peace.  Thus, the question has arisen what to do with the Arab population of Judea, Samaria (aka the West Bank) and eastern Jerusalem.  Reconquering and annexation have been ruled out for demographic reasons.  The primary solution being proposed, even though it is apparently opposed by a significant majority of Israelis, is another unilateral withdrawal.  Various plans for the transfer of the Arab population have been rejected due to lack of willingness of any country to negotiate a population transfer treaty with Israel, and lack of support for forced transfer among the Israeli Jewish population.

However, there is a practical alternative to both these.  Numbers quoted in the media as justifying the need for a quick demographic solution are based on falsified data provided by the Palestinian Authority.  According to the "path breaking study" by Zimmerman, Seid and Wise "The Million Person Gap", published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, in reality there is currently a 67% Jewish majority in pre-67 Israel plus Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank).

In polls of West Bank Arabs, 17% said they would emigrate abroad immediately if they had the resources to do so, and "70% identified some form of material measure, translatable into monetary terms (such as accommodation, education, financial compensation and so on), that could bring them to emigrate permanently. ...Furthermore, only 15% stated that that there was no inducement that could prompt them to leave their present place of residence permanently."   In addition to this 59% of Israeli Jews support the government encouraging Arabs to emigrate.

This article argues that the establishment of an Israeli government funded Agency to provide the above mentioned incentives with the addition of legal and logistical aid would provide a practical long term solution to the demographic threat by encouraging the voluntary emigration of individual Arabs and immediate family units to third countries through normal immigration channels, thus bypassing the need to gain official agreement of any third party government.

This policy could result in an over 75% Jewish majority in Israel and the West Bank by 2025. The direct cost of this plan at 32 billion shekels spread over 20 years would have significantly less of an economic impact than that of a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank at 100 billion shekels spread over 3 - 4 years.

To view and sign a petition calling for the implementation of this plan please go to:


After most of Israeli society has come to the conclusion that peace is not possible with the Palestinian Arabs (or at least not in our generation), a debate has erupted about what to do with Judea, Samaria and the eastern part of Jerusalem.  What is at the heart of this debate, i.e. what is the perceived problem?  In one word - Demographics.  Conventional wisdom, both in and out of Israel, says that in the near future Arabs will outnumber Jews west of the Jordan River.  While most of us rightly assume that this would be a significant problem, not many of us have taken the time understand in detail what the specific underlying issues are.

What are the underlying issues?  There is one primary issue, which leads to a number of related issues.  In classical Zionist thought Jews have no choice but to take exclusive responsibility for our own security under our own sovereignty, since based on our collective historical experience we cannot depend on non-Jews to safeguard our basic human rights and civil rights.  In modern practice, this principle has been relaxed such that in a democratic state with an overwhelming Jewish majority the participation in the democratic process of a small non-Jewish minority, even if that minority is hostile, is perceived as an unavoidable risk, required by the need for international recognition as a full fledged democratic state.  However, if the non-Jewish minority grows too large, it would have an ever increasing influence on issues of sovereignty and security, effectively taking those issues out of exclusive Jewish control.  We have in fact seen this effect in recent times, in the form of the Oslo accords, which were formally adopted as a binding treaty only with the support of the non-Jewish parties in the Knesset.  The perception and fear of the mainstream Israeli public is that by continuing to maintain the disputed, popularly misstated as occupied (*1), status of Gaza, Judea and Samaria that the Arabs living in those areas will eventually demand and somehow obtain Israeli citizenship and thus voting rights, either through international pressure, the courts or some other unforeseen method and thus the Jews will irreversibly loose control of the state and their self-determination.  Not only is retention of Judea, Samaria and the Arab populated areas of eastern Jerusalem perceived to be demographically problematic for the state's future, but even within pre-67 "Green Line" Israel demographics is considered to be a serious concern.  This is based on popularly accepted figures showing an Arab population of 1.41 million in the Gaza Strip, 2.42 million in Judea / Samaria (*2) and 1.3 million Israeli Arabs and Arab overall growth rates significantly higher than Jewish growth rates.   Based on these popularly accepted figures Jews only outnumber Arabs west of the Jordan River by about 200,000 and Jews will become a minority within about 5 years.  While Israel's unilateral withdrawal of all military forces and expulsion of its Jewish citizens from the Gaza Strip is perceived as a step toward solving this problem, many believe that the problem is still significant and must be dealt with quickly.

All current solutions being proposed to the demographic problem under consideration by the mainstream Israeli public revolve around the idea that in order to preserve both Israel's Jewish and Democratic nature the state must abandon areas with dense Arab populations.  While this has been mostly focused on Gaza, Judea / Samaria (a.k.a. West Bank), and eastern Jerusalem, mention has also been made of abandoning areas within "Green Line" Israel such as the Galilee triangle.  As noted above, such a solution has already been implemented in the Gaza Strip, at an estimated final cost to the Israeli taxpayer of between 10 - 11 billion shekels.  Currently a similar plan is under consideration for Judea and Samaria by all three major political parties.  Labor, Kadima and Likud all have accepted the principle that area's with dense Arab population must be abandoned.  They differ only on their timelines and the precise place where the final border will be drawn.  Such an action would entail the forcible expulsion of about 80,000 Jews from their homes.  Based on the cost of the Gaza disengagement, it is reasonable to assume that the costs for a similar withdrawal from the Judea and Samaria would be around 100 billion shekels spread over 3 - 4 years.

At this point two questions arise: is the problem actually as it is perceived and is there an alternative way to deal with this problem?

In fact, recently released demographic studies, such as the path breaking study by Zimmerman, Seid and Wise, "The Million Person Gap", published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, have shown that the demographic consideration, while definitely a significant problem, is highly overstated.  This new set of studies has shown that the true figures for the current size of the Arab population and its growth rates are sizably smaller than popularly believed.  According to, "The Million Person Gap" study,

"When adjusting for the PCBS [Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics] errors, the Arab population in the Territories at mid-year 2004 was calculated at 2.49 million rather than the 3.83 million reported by the PCBS – a gap of 1.34 million persons."

In reality, there are only about 2.49 million Arabs in Gaza, and Judea / Samaria, about 1.09 million in Gaza and 1.4 million in Judea / Samaria. The group also found that current overall Arab growth rates are not as high as previously thought.  It is also apparent from the data for Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, West Bank Arabs and surrounding Arab countries found in their study, "Population Forecast for Israel and West Bank 2025", that if current Jewish and Arab trends continue, the Israeli and West Bank Arab birth rates will fall below Jewish birth rates in 10 to 20 years. 

What does this mean practically?  It means that west of the Jordan river there is a 60% Jewish majority, in pre-67 Israel plus Judea / Samaria there is a 67% Jewish majority and in pre-67 Israel by itself there is an 81% Jewish majority and that these percentages are projected to stay more or less stable for the foreseeable future according to their mid - high case scenarios. (*3) Since Israel has already relinquished control over Gaza, the focus here will be on Judea / Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

So what then do we do with the 1.4 million Arabs living in Judea and Samaria and the approximately 200,000 Arabs in eastern Jerusalem?  For that matter, is there also a way to reduce the number of Arabs in pre-67 Israel relative to the number of Jews which does not infringe on the Arabs civil rights?  Currently, the primary method for trying to increase the Jewish population is to promote Jewish immigration.  The state of Israel has a government ministry which encourages Jewish immigration in part by providing logistical and financial aid for Jews who wish to immigrate.  However, at current and projected levels this immigration is not sufficient to significantly increase the relative size of the Jewish population to the Arab population.  In this light, are there additional methods that can increase the size of the Jewish majority in pre-67 Israel plus Judea / Samaria without infringing on the Arabs' civil rights?  There is.

Just as the state runs a government ministry, The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, dedicated to providing various forms of aid to Jews who immigrate to Israel, the state should establish a, "Ministry of Emigrant Aid" or "Emigration Agency", to provide parallel aid, an "Emigration Basket", to non-Jews who wish to leave Israel or Judea / Samaria.  Of course, immediately upon bringing up such a proposal numerous important questions need to be answered, the first of which is "is such a proposal racist", or would it violate the state of Israel's racism laws?  This and other important questions are listed below:

The first issue to deal with is whether or not such a proposal is racist, or would violate the state of Israel's racism laws.  The short answer is no.  The heart of this proposal is its voluntary nature and fulfilling the goal of providing a solution to the demographic problem without violating Arab and other non-Jewish residents' human or civil rights.  Just as making aliyah is an independently made personal decision, so would be the decision of a non-Jewish resident to emigrate.  There is absolutely no coercion involved in this.  But this does not fully answer the question.  Does not violating any groups' human or civil rights mean that the proposal is not "racist"?  We have seen instances where, under Israeli law, simply expressing a view found to be offensive can lead to criminal charges (*5) such as in the case of Tatiana Susskind who went to jail for drawing a picture of Mohamed as a pig (*6).  Could this proposal also become the target of politically motivated persecution?  On the face it would seem not, since the demographic issue has been the center of political debate for at least a decade, and politicians across the political spectrum from extreme left to extreme right have openly discussed the "problem" of Israel having too many Arab citizens, on the left and center this being the justification for abandoning territory with dense Arab population.  In addition, every Israeli government since the state's founding has made it a central policy aim to maintain and increase the size of the Jewish majority and for the past roughly 20 years there has been a political party in the Israeli Knesset which openly advocates various forms of population transfer.  Moreover, at least one article has recently been published in a mainstream Hebrew language Israeli newspaper advocating monetary incentives for Arabs to emigrate (*7).  Under these conditions it seems highly unlikely that a voluntary emigration proposal would draw any legal consequences.

Assuming that an Emigration Ministry was established and found a significantly large population desiring its services; would this in fact have a significant effect on the demographic problem?  According to the previously cited study, "Population Forecast for Israel and West Bank 2025" (*3), if Jewish net immigration reaches levels of 50,000 per year, and 10,000 Israeli Arabs and 20,000 West Bank Arabs emigrated annually, then the currently 67% Jewish majority in pre-67 Israel plus Judea / Samaria would increase to 71% by 2025. 

Currently, about 10,000 Arabs are emigrating abroad from Judea / Samaria annually, on average.  Taking into account actual measured Jewish growth rates which have been higher than projected, and overall Arab growth rates which have been significantly lower than projected; increasing West Bank Arab emigration to an average of 50,000 per year would increase the Jewish majority to around 75% in 20 years assuming the trend of sharp declines in Arab fertility rates continues. (*4) Over the long term the effect would be even more pronounced as it may create a "birth dearth" situation. This would result from the fact that most emigrants tend to be people of child bearing age, either young singles or young families with a few small children as seen in the case of the Russian aliyah. All of this means that encouraging an already strong Arab emigration trend provides an important part of a viable long term solution to the demographic problem.

Would Israelis support a plan to encourage non-Jewish emigration with monetary and other aid?  There seems to be a strong desire in Israeli society to, "separate", or get away from the Arabs.  A major element of the center and left wing's campaign in support of the separation barrier has been the slogan, "Us Here, Them There".  Not only is there the desire for physical separation, but for political separation as well.  A headline appeared on the front page of Maariv December 19th, 2004 which stated, "51% of Israeli youth don't want Arabs in Knesset ".   More specific to the idea of an Emigration Ministry, a poll was conducted by the Dahaf Institute on behalf of Madar, the Palestinian Center for Israel Studies, which found that 59% of Israeli Jews felt that the state should encourage Arabs to emigrate (*8).  Thus it would seem that such a plan in principle would garner widespread public support.

Now that those questions have been answered, we arrive at practical questions regarding implementation of a plan encouraging non-Jewish residents to emigrate.  The first question is whether or not there are sufficient people willing to emigrate.  According to a poll carried out by the firm Maagar Mochot, in cooperation with The Palestinian Center for Public Opinion under the management of Dr. Nabil Kokli (*9), it was found that,

"according to a representative sample of the adult population in Judea and Samaria, over 40% respondents have considered emigrating permanently to some other country. Furthermore, only 15% (!) stated that that there was no inducement that could prompt them to leave their present place of residence permanently. By contrast, 70% identified some form of material measure, translatable into monetary terms (such as accommodation, education, financial compensation and so on), that could bring them to emigrate permanently." (*10)

In addition the study found that 17%, equivalent to 238,000 people out of 1.4 million, said they would emigrate abroad immediately if they had the resources to do so.  This data shows that the popular assumption that the Arabs of Judea and Samaria are committed to "their land" above all other things are patently false.  In reality, the majority of these Arabs are more concerned with their physical and financial welfare than with nationalist issues, and significant portions of the population are willing to consider relocation given the proper aid is provided. 

But where would these people go?  What countries would accept them?  While most Arab countries would not accept these people, evidence shows that they would not have a difficult time gaining entry through normal immigration channels to most other countries. First a common misunderstanding must be clarified.  When people object to a proposal on the basis that no country would agree to accept those who are emigrating they are objecting to something other than what is being discussed here.  They are objecting to a situation in which the government of Israel would make an agreement directly with the government of another country for the en mass emigration of large groups of people.  Any such proposal would indeed be doomed to failure, for it is clear that no government in the world would give its formal agreement or assistance to any such proposal.  For any emigration plan to be effective, it must first and foremost be executable unilaterally by the Israeli government and have the consent of the people emigrating.  This proposal is such a plan.  It hinges not on coerced mass emigration, but on individuals and individual families immigrating to other countries through normal legal immigration channels of their own free will.  For example, looking at migration statistics provided by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) for North American and the EU shows nearly 2 million permanent legal immigrants per year. This does not even count so called temporary immigrants such as people on student or work visas, many of whom eventually become permanent immigrants.  This adds millions more places to the number of available legal immigration slots for first world countries.  (*11)  Looking outside North America and the EU to other first world countries (*12) shows Japan accepting over 300,000 and Australia accepting over 120,000 per year (*13).  Expand the list of target countries to include Second and Third World areas such as Eastern Europe and South America and the number of legal immigration slots available increases by millions more.  Unlike in the past, when countries had religious or ethnic based quotas, such as the famous anti-Jewish quotas of the 1930's, today they have more or less impartial and non-discriminatory regulations which govern the admittance of legal immigrants.  And any other style of quotas, such as country of origin quotas, which might exist are unlikely to be a problem since 50,000 emigrants per year is only 2,500 people immigrating to each of 20 countries.  It also appears that the level of education or skill set of those immigrating does not materially affect their ability to qualify for immigrant status as shown by the fact that only 30% of Lebanese migrants during the civil war had either a higher education or were considered to be skilled workers. (*26)

How would this proposal be implemented from the Israeli side?  Part of the Ministry of Emigration would be logistical support.  It would retain the services of immigration law firms in various countries who would help deal with filling out the paperwork for that country and guiding families through the bureaucratic and legal maze of immigrating. Each person / family could provide a list of preferred countries and the Ministry would help them apply in each of the countries.  They could go wherever they get in.  The Ministry would pay for transportation to the destination and also help them find homes, jobs and whatever else they need assistance with to get settled in.  Pre-existing administrative infrastructure could be utilized for many of these tasks, such as the Jewish Agency.  There would be monetary grants in addition to housing grant and grants for attending language courses.  Just like the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, except in reverse. 

In order to calculate the yearly cost it must be determined what a reasonable cost to the state is and what is the minimum amount which will be effective in persuading someone to emigrate. 

In 2005 the state of Israel had a budget of approximately 266.6 billion NIS. (*14) This does not include the approximately 10 - 11 billion shekel cost of the "disengagement" plan which is planned to be spread over the 2005 - 2007 budgets, with part being financed by budget cuts and part by borrowing. (*16,*17,*18)  Originally the total cost was estimated by the government at 5 billion shekels or about 1% of the projected 2005 GDP. (*16)  Actual GDP for 2005 was NIS 531.4 billion. (*15)  The projected cost as of Feb. 2006 is a staggering 2% of GDP, or about 4% of the yearly budget.  Assuming that the original estimated cost of 5 billion shekels a year spread over a period of 3 years was considered an acceptable outlay with minimal economic impact, than 1.6 billion shekels per year could be considered a reasonable cost to the state which can be used as a base budget for the Emigration Ministry.

Can this assumed budget of 1.6 billion shekels per year (32 billion shekels spread over a 20 year period) provide sufficient funds for both the cost of direct aid and administrative overhead to 50,000 émigrés a year?  Calculating based on a family unit of five, two parents and three children; this would provide a budget per family of 160,000 shekels or about $34,000 USD, including administrative overhead.  In order to arrive at the actual amount available for direct aid to emigrating families, the administrative cost must be estimated.  This is difficult; however two programs were found which could form a basis for comparison.  The first is the "Israel Free Loan Association" which provides financial aid to Israeli immigrants in the form of interest free loans.  This organization has an administrative cost of 2.9 %. (*20) The second organization is USAID.  USAID is an independent federal government agency which runs various on the ground foreign aid programs around the world.  USAID has an administrative cost of 7%.  (*21) It is reasonable to assume that an Emigrant Aid Agency would have cost somewhere in this range.  Taking the median cost of 4.95% would leave $32700 for direct aid to each family unit.  Deducting average travel costs of $500 per person based on current one way international airfare rates leaves $30200 as the amount of the aid grant for a 5 person family.

2005 estimated per capita income in Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank) is approximately $1000.  (*19)  Such a grant would constitute nearly 30 years income for the average West Bank Arab family.  In most Second and Third World countries the $30k grant would be sufficient to pay all of a family's living expenses for many years. (*25) Even in a first world country such as the USA, this amount would be sufficient for 2 - 3 years in the less expensive parts of the country.  (*24)  This, plus the ability to start a new life away from the current violent conflict would seem to constitute a significant incentive in light of explicitly expressed interest in emigration among the Arab population and the fact that over 10,000 Arabs currently emigrate annually by their own means.  In comparison, about 900,000 Lebanese emigrated during the period of the civil war (1975-90) and hundreds of thousands more have emigrated since in order to escape conditions similar to those among the Arab population in Judea and Samaria. (*22)  The primary practical difference between the two populations is that most of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria do not possess the means to emigrate on their own.

While the above numbers show that the demographic problem is not as extensive as popularly believed, and that there is a realistic possibility of changing the Jewish / Arab ratio in Jewish favor, they also show that there still is a significant problem.  As previously noted, even the relatively small 19% Arab minority currently in Israel has already had a significant effect on Israeli security policy via the ballot box and its support for the Oslo process.    Even after significantly reducing the relative size of the combined Israeli Arab / West Bank Arab populations, there will eventually need to be some method, potentially constitutional in nature, for guarding Jewish existential interests without infringing on Arab civil rights.

There is an alternative method for dealing with the demographic problem, and the Ministry of Emigration is part of it.  This method would cost a fraction of the 100 billion shekels that another unilateral withdrawal would cost and would not subject the country to dangerous economic pressures (*23). It would also save Israeli society from the strain of setting brother against brother, and avoid the possibility of a civil war.

Refs / footnotes:


Dore Gold


Arab Population In the West Bank & Gaza
The Million and a Half Person Gap
Slide 28


Population Forecast for Israel and West Bank 2025
Presentation at the Sixth Herzliya Conference January 23, 2006


This number is based on calculations using starting data from the studies done by Zimmerman, Seid and Wise.  It should be noted that the claims made in this document are unrelated to and have not been endorsed by the authors of the studies.

Listing all of the calculations would take up too much space here.  In short, I make the following assumptions:

1) Average emigration abroad of 50,000 Arabs per year from the West Bank starting in 2006
2) Average net Jewish immigration of between 25,000 to 50,000
3) Average emigration abroad of between 5,000 to 10,000 Israeli Arabs

Other assumptions about changes in Total Fertility Rates are taken from the "Green" scenario in the, "Population Forecast for Israel and West Bank 2025", by Zimmerman, Seid and Wise.


[Hebron Pig Poster Incident:] How Clinton Adheres to the 'Rushdie Rules'
by Daniel Pipes
July 25, 1997


Tatiana Susskind Mohamed / Pig Picture


יש פתרון לסכסוך
מרטין שרמן,7340,L-3022571,00.html


Poll: Most Jewish Israelis favor emigration of Israeli Arabs
By Yoav Stern


Poll among Palestinians favors Humanitarian Solution
22 January 2005


Like any other people?
Dr. Martin Sherman
22 January 2005


Trends in International Migration
Continuous Reporting System on Migration
ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT,2340,en_2649_37415_2515108_1_1_1_37415,00.html


Countries of the First World
One World - Nations Online
Countries of the World


Overview - Migration to Australia


The Israeli Budget for 2005

Imri Tov
With the assistance of Noam Gruber
Jaffee Center
for Strategic Studies


Growth slowed to 4.9% in second half of 2005
Business product rises by an annualized 6.6% in second half of 2005, after rising 6.7% during the first half
Zeev Klein    14 Feb 06   16:33


Staff Report for the 2004 Article IV Consultation
Prepared by Staff Representatives for the 2004 Article IV Consultation with Israel
Approved by Ajai Chopra and Martin Fetherston
March 1, 2005

pg. 13, pg. 48


Disengagement cost soars
Gadi Golan, Zeev Klein
23/08/2005 16:57:00

"The evacuation of settlements is complete. Rehousing evacuees in Nitzanim will cost NIS 2.2 billion, bringing the total bill to NIS 10 billion."


Strategic Assessment
Volume 8, No. 3
November 2005
The Disengagement Price Tag
Imri Tov

"As such, the total estimated cost outlay for the evacuation of Gush Katif and completion of the Gaza disengagement plan (including resettlement of the inhabitants) would reach 10-11 billion NIS, or over 2 percent of the annual GDP."


CIA World Fact Book - West Bank


Helping Israel's working poor
Cleveland native's Free Loan agency helps Israelis get back on their feet and may also boost economy


Possible Future Effects of Existing Events and Conditions


United Nations Developement Programme in Lebanon
TOKTEN Lebanon History


This is based on the following.  32 billion shekels spread over 20 years could be financed annually partially through the regular budget and partially through borrowing.  The yearly amount would approximately be 1/3rd of 1% of GDP which is insignificant relative to the size of the economy.  A unilateral withdrawal however would have its expenditures concentrated over no more than 2 - 4 years.  At a cost of 100 billion shekels to forcibly expel 80,000 Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, there would be a significant economic impact.  Such a withdrawal would result in a dangerous breach of the country's budgetary framework in the amount of 7% - 8% of GDP over each of 3 years and would significantly impact macroeconomic policy.


Oklahoma Apartments for Rent - Area Details by

Median rent for an apartment in Oklahoma City, capital of the American state of Oklahoma is $490 per month.  Rent for a median priced apartment for 3 years would come to $17640, slightly over half of the monetary grant.  This would leave more than sufficient funds for other living expenses and needs.


CIA World Fact Book
Rank Order - GDP - per capita

The per capita GDP in the USA is $41800 and is $8500 in Brazil.  Assuming a similar relationship in cost of living, then the $30200 monetary grant could provide all living in expenses in a country like Brazil for approximately 15 years.


Strategy to reverse exodus of skilled people from Lebanon
By Kamal Dib
Commentary by
Friday, August 12, 2005

Out of approximately 900,000 emigrants from Lebanon from 1975 to 1990, only 320,000 were considered to be skilled and educated individuals; about 30 %.