JERUSALEM (AP) — The Palestinian statistics bureau estimates that Arabs will outnumber Jews in the Holy Land by the end of the decade, a scenario that could have grave implications for Israel.

The bureau said Tuesday that 5.8 million Arabs live in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. That compares to about 6 million Israeli Jews, according to Israeli data.

It said that based on current birth rates, the two populations would be equal in 2016, and in 2020, Arabs would outnumber Jews by 7.2 million to 6.9 million.

The demographic issue is a main argument for Israeli backers of creation of a Palestinian state. They say relinquishing control of the Palestinian territories and its residents is the only way to ensure Israel's future as a democracy with a Jewish majority.

 

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