The great hope of many Israelis on the far right (which these days means the center) is that demography – far from forcing them to come to terms with the occupation – is actually the major impetus behind the de jure annexation of the entire West Bank. A recent piece in Tablet By David Goldman brings that into focus. Money quote:
Israel is the great exception to the decline in fertility from North Africa to Iran, as I argued in a 2011 essay for Tablet magazine. The evidence is now overwhelming that a Jewish majority between the Jordan River and the sea is baked in the cake. The CIA World Factbook estimates total fertility of Arabs in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza at just 2.83 in 2014, versus 3.05 in 2011. The total fertility of Israeli Jews, meanwhile, has risen above three children per female … Jewish immigration is consistently positive and accelerating, while Palestinian emigration, at an estimated 10,000 per year since 1967, is reducing the total Arab population west of the Jordan River.
Palestine Authority data exaggerated Arab numbers in Judea and Samaria by about 30 percent, or 648,000 people, as of the 1997 census. As Caroline Glick observes in her 2014 book The Israeli Solution, Jews will constitute a 60 percent majority between the river and the sea, and “some anticipate that due almost entirely to Jewish immigration, Jews could comprise an 80 percent majority within the 1949 armistice lines and Judea and Samaria by 2035.” Israel therefore has little fear demographically from annexation.
I’m not an expert so I cannot judge these demographic predictions. They seem somewhat dubious to me. But in some respects, that’s not the point. The point is that many Israelis, especially those in its current government, believe this scenario and at the same time see the vast upheaval in the Arab and Muslim world as a golden opportunity to achieve the radical Zionist goal from the very beginning: control of all the land between the river and the sea.
You saw this in Netanyahu’s brusque dismissal of the two-state solution as impossible because of the renewed threat of Jihadism unleashed by the Arab Spring and the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars. And that, on top of alleged demographics, is what fuels Israel’s otherwise baffling desire to settle the West Bank and East Jerusalem at the expense of any other objective. (Netanyahu was prepared to release scores of convicted murderers of Jews than remove one brick from Greater Israel’s foundations in Judea and Samaria.)
Far from encouraging the Israelis to make peace as soon as possible, the spiraling chaos in the Arab world has emboldened many to intensify and accelerate the settlements and the colonization, and to press the war against the desperate and isolated Hamas with cold-blooded dominance. Here’s how David Goldman sees it:
The inability of the Palestine Authority to govern, the inability of Hamas to distance itself from its patron in Tehran, and the collapse of the surrounding states eventually will require Israel to assume control over the West Bank. This time the Israelis will stay. Israel can’t rely on the PA to conduct counterterrorism operations against Hamas, its coalition partner. Israel’s border with the Hashemite Kingdom in the Jordan Valley, meanwhile, has become a strategic pivot. ISIS is now operating in strength at the common border of Israel, Syria, Jordan, and occupied Iraqi-Syrian border towns close to the common frontier with Jordan. Jordan’s own security requires a strong IDF presence on its western border.
When Israel absorbs Judea and Samaria—and it is a when, not an if—the chancelleries of the West will wag their fingers, and the Gulf States will breathe a sigh of relief.
The two-state solution is dead. Greater Israel is here to stay. And it’s just a matter of time before an American administration embraces it.