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The Palestinian Issue Between Land and Demography

The Palestinian issue will remain the first Arab issue and the biggest stain on the face of the world, which stood helpless in the face of colonization of land and honor for more than seven decades.

It is not possible to erase history, deny the existence of the Palestinian people, and hide their identity, whose roots extend back centuries. The occupation has not been able in any country throughout history to eliminate its indigenous peoples, regardless of the efforts at ethnic cleansing or the attempt to change the demographics of the population.

In this context, the Strategic Forum for Public Policy and Development Studies “Draya” issues a report that provides an overview of the history of the Palestinian state, and the area of land that remained for the Palestinians of their land after the Nakba of 1948, in addition to the demographics of its people.

First: a historical overview of the Palestinian state

Many Arab tribes and peoples migrated from the Arabian Peninsula to Palestine, the most famous of which are: the Canaanites, the Amorites, and the Arameans. These peoples established important civilizations, especially the Canaanites who established large cities in Palestine and named them by their names, and they remain a legacy until now.

Palestine was invaded by various ethnic groups that managed to control it for a while, but they were eventually expelled and the land returned to its original inhabitants. The most famous of these groups are the Hyksos (1750-1500 BC.M.), and the Persians (520 BC.M.), and the Greeks led by Alexander (332 BC.Ad), and the Romans in the first century AD. In 636 AD, the Muslim armies conquered Palestine and became part of the Islamic State, and Palestine witnessed prosperity in the Arab era despite the Crusades it went through. It also remained active in shaping the events of Arab history even during the four-century Ottoman rule.

In the late nineteenth century, the process of Jewish settlement in Palestine began during the period of Ottoman rule, and the Zionist movement used all means to encourage Jewish immigration to Israel. Some Jews entered as merchants and businessmen, while others took advantage of being allowed to visit the holy places to infiltrate Palestine and stay there. Jewish settlement in Palestine began in 1859.

In the midst of World War I, the Sykes-Picot Agreement was signed, which stipulated that Palestine would become under the British Mandate. In 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour issued a statement stipulating the establishment of a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine, which is known as the Balfour Declaration. Declaration, Britain worked to provide facilities and support for waves of Jewish immigration to Palestine and to increase the number of Jewish settlements there.

The Palestinian people began to confront the Zionist and British movements through armed resistance and demonstrations; the revolution of 1921, the Buraq revolution of 1929, and the revolution of 1936, which was renewed in 1937 and lasted until 1939. At the same time, Britain continued to confiscate land and Judaize it, while the UN addressed the Palestinian issue, issuing a partition resolution in November 1947, which provides for the creation of two independent Arab and Jewish states.

Events followed and the resistance intensified until the first Arab – Israeli war on May 15, 1948, which flared up after Britain officially withdrew from Palestine, and its results were the establishment of the state of Israel and its occupation of the bulk of Palestine, in addition to the displacement of most of the Palestinian people from their cities and villages under the pressure of Zionist groups that committed massacres against the Palestinian people to force them to leave their land. The Palestinian Arab people lived as refugees in camps scattered in neighboring countries.

Following the 1948 war, nothing remained of Palestine except the West Bank, which was subject to Jordanian administration, and the Gaza Strip, which was subject to Egyptian administration until 1956. The armed Palestinian revolution was launched in 1965, led by the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, Fatah, with the aim of liberating Palestine, after the Israeli aggression in 1967. Israel took control of all Palestinian territory after it occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and tens of thousands of Palestinian people were displaced outside their homeland once again.

Second: the area of historical Palestine and the rest of the land

The total area of historical Palestine is 27.009 square kilometers, while the area of the proposed state of Palestine (as stated in UN Resolution 181, which is known as the partition resolution in 1551948) on the territories occupied in 1967 (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) is 6209 square kilometers and represents 22.95% of the area of historical Palestine as follows:

1-the area of the West Bank is 5844 kilometers, constituting 21.6% of the total area of the land of historical Palestine.

2-the area of the Gaza Strip is 365 square kilometers, and it constitutes 1.35% of the total area of the land of historical Palestine.

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has revealed that the Israeli occupation controls more than 85% of the total land area in historical Palestine (the West Bank, Gaza and Israel).

After the political and geographical reality imposed by the occupying power, the actual remaining area for Palestinians of the total area of the West Bank is less than 54% of the area of the West Bank, after the Israeli occupation seized 46% of the area through settlement, the wall and occupation practices on the ground.

According to a statement by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, Israel uses about 76% of the area classified C of the West Bank under its control. Therefore, the remaining land for the Palestinians is not enough to establish a Palestinian state, and poses a threat to the Palestinian demography.

Third: Demographics of the Palestinian people

Demography is known as the science of population that is concerned with studying population characteristics such as size, distribution, density, composition, ethnicities, growth components (birth, mortality, migration), income level, etc.

Throughout history, the Palestinian state has witnessed many political, economic and social changes, which have caused profound demographic changes among the Palestinian people, affecting demographics, education, health, and the economy. According to the latest data released in 2023, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics showed a number of indicators related to the Palestinian population, the most prominent of which are as follows:

(A) population indicators:

1-14.5 million Palestinians in historical Palestine and the diaspora :

The number of Palestinians in mid-2023 reached about 14.5 million Palestinians in the world, including 5.5 million Palestinians in the state of Palestine, or 38% of the total number of Palestinians in the world.

The data of the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics show that the number of Palestinians residing within the 48 territories is about 1.7 million individuals, residents in Arab countries is about 6.5 million individuals, and residents in foreign countries are about 800 thousand individuals.

Figure 1 shows the number of Palestinians in the world by their place of residence:

The Palestinians in the State of Palestine are distributed as 3.25 million people in the West Bank (about 60%), including 1.65 million males and 1.60 million females, while the population of the Gaza Strip is estimated at about 2.23 million people (about 40%), including 1.13 million males and 1.10 million. One million females.

2- The Palestinian society is young and more than a third of its population is under 15 years of age:

Figure No. (2) shows the average family size in Palestine by region during the years 2007 and 2022

4-the population growth rate in 2023 in the state of Palestine reached 2.4%, with 2.1% in the West Bank and 2.7% in the Gaza Strip.

5-the crude birth rate in 2023 was about 28.8 births per 1000 of the population, 26.6 births in the West Bank and 32.0 births in the Gaza Strip. The crude mortality rate in 2023 in Palestine was 3.7 deaths per 1000 residents, 3.7 in the West Bank and 3.4 in the Gaza Strip.

6-the life expectancy of survival at birth for 2022 was about 74.3 years, 73.2 years for males and 75.4 years for females.

7-the percentage of the elderly (60 years and over) reached about 5.7% of the total population of Palestine, 6.3% in the West Bank, and 4.8% in the Gaza Strip.

The percentage of individuals in the age group (0-14 years) is estimated at 37% of the total population in Palestine in 2023, 35% in the West Bank and 40% in the Gaza Strip. The percentage of individuals aged (65 years and over) reached 4% in Palestine, 4% in the West Bank and 3% in the Gaza Strip.

B- Indicators of housing conditions and services:

1- About 81% of families in Palestine live in homes owned by a family member residing there. At the regional level, this percentage is distributed at 87% in the West Bank and 70% in the Gaza Strip in 2022.
2-The percentage of families who live in rented housing in Palestine reached 7% (5% in the West Bank, compared to 10% in the Gaza Strip), while the percentage of Palestinian families who live in housing without compensation or in exchange for work is 12% (7% in the West Bank). Western, compared to 20% in the Gaza Strip), during the year 2022.

3- More than half of the families in Palestine live in apartments:

The total number of families in Palestine who live in apartments reached about 54%, while 43% of families live in dwellings classified as a house, less than half a percent of families live in a villa, and 3% of families live in other dwellings such as a separate room or a tent. , or Barakia, or another in 2022.

Figure No. (3) shows the relative distribution of families in Palestine by type of housing

4-on average, 1.5 people live per room in Palestinian housing

The average housing density (number of persons per room) in Palestine was 1.5 persons/ room in 2022 (by 1.5 persons/ room in urban and rural areas, compared to 1.8 persons/ room in the camps), while the average housing density at the regional level was 1.4 persons/ room in the West Bank, compared to 1.7 persons/ room in the Gaza Strip.

5-about 5% of West Bank families live in overcrowded housing compared to 9% in the Gaza Strip:

6% of families in Palestine Live in high-density housing units (3 or more people per room) (5% in the West Bank, compared to 9% in the Gaza Strip), and at the level of the type of community, it is 6% in urban and rural areas and will increase to 9% in the camps in 2022.

It should also be noted that the average number of rooms in the dwelling reached 3.5 rooms in 2022 in Palestine, and the average number of rooms in the dwelling reached 3.5 rooms in urban and 3.6 rooms in rural compared to 3.2 rooms in the camps, and the average number of rooms in the dwelling in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip reached 3.5 rooms during the year 2022.

6- Only 4% of Gaza residents have access to safely managed, pollution-free water:

The data indicate that about 40% of the population in Palestine has access to safely managed and pollution-free water (free of E-Coli bacteria, 66% in the West Bank, compared to 4% in the Gaza Strip), and this percentage by type of community reached 36% in urban and 67% in rural, and this percentage decreased to 25% of the population in the camps in 2020

C-work indicators:

1-the labor force participation rate (for individuals 15 years and older) was 43.4%, where the female participation rate was 19% compared to 17.2% in 2021, and the male 71% compared to 69% in 2021.

2-the unemployment rate in Palestine in 2022 reached about 24.4%, and there is still a large disparity in the unemployment rate among participants in the labor force for individuals from 15 years and more between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where this rate reached 45.3% in the Gaza Strip, compared to 13.1% in the West Bank.

At the gender level, the unemployment rate for males in Palestine reached 20% compared to 40% for females in 2023. The unemployment rate reached 48% among young people (19-29 years old) with an average diploma and above, with 61% for females compared to 34% for males.

3-Approximately 40% of wage-employed workers in the private sector receive a monthly wage less than the minimum wage of (1,880 shekels), where the percentage reached about 38% for men, compared to 50% for women, and approximately 40% of female wage-employees in the private sector work. Without an employment contract, 44% receive a contribution to financing retirement/end-of-service benefits. In contrast, 46% of female wage employees in the private sector receive paid maternity leave.

D- Education indicators

1-The illiteracy rate among individuals aged 15 years and over in Palestine reached 2.2%, and this rate varied greatly between males and females. It reached 1.1% among males, while it reached 3.3% among females.

2- Females outperform males in completion rates for the lower and higher secondary levels, as these percentages reached 97% and 78%, respectively, while the percentages among males reached 90% and 53%, respectively.

3- The percentage of female students enrolled in Palestinian higher education institutions reached 62% of the total students enrolled in higher education institutions for the academic year 2021/2022, of whom about 10% are enrolled in the communications and information technology major.

4-The number of schools, according to the Palestinian Census data in 2021, was about 3,107 schools, with a number of teachers amounting to 59 thousand teachers annually and a number of students amounting to 1,338,353 annually.

E-health indicators:

1-the number of hospitals in 2021 reached about 89 hospitals, distributed among 54 hospitals in the West Bank, and 35 in the Gaza Strip.

2-the number of health centers in 2021 reached about 765, 64% of these centers are affiliated with the Palestinian Ministry of health, compared to 25% affiliated with non-governmental organizations, 9% affiliated with the relief agency and 2% affiliated with military services.

3-the number of doctors was 2.7 doctors per 1000 inhabitants, and the number of beds was 1.5 per 1000 inhabitants

F- Information Society Indicators:

1- In 2022, about 92% of families in Palestine reported that they or one of their members has access to internet service at home, 93% in the West Bank, and 92% in the Gaza Strip.

2-The percentage of individuals aged 10 years and over who used the Internet from anywhere was 89% in Palestine, 92% in the West Bank and 83% in the Gaza Strip, while the percentage was 89% among males and 88% among females.

3- About 79% of individuals (10 years and older) in Palestine own a mobile phone, 86% in the West Bank and 69% in the Gaza Strip. There is a clear gap in ownership of a mobile phone between males and females, as the percentage reached 83% for males and 76% for females. In 2022.

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