Half of Israel to be Arab, ultra-Orthodox by 2059 – projections
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Half of Israel to be Arab, ultra-Orthodox by 2059 – projections

Figures show Israeli population will grow to 18 million in just over four decades, up from 8.6 million today

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man from the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit seen talking with Arabs as he gets his car washed at the Hussan Junction Palestinian-owned car wash in the West Bank, on November 11, 2015. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man from the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit seen talking with Arabs as he gets his car washed at the Hussan Junction Palestinian-owned car wash in the West Bank, on November 11, 2015. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Just under half of Israel’s population (49 percent) will be made up of Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews by 2059, according to projections by the Central Bureau of Statistics released by the Israel Democracy Institute on Thursday.

In 42 years, the ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, community will have grown to 5.25 million people, or some 29 percent of the Israeli public, the figures estimated. Israelis who identify as ultra-Orthodox currently make up some 9% of the public, according to data released by the CBS last month.

Previous projections by the CBS in 2012 estimated the ultra-Orthodox would grow to number some 4.5 million people in the coming decades.

The Arab Israeli community was estimated to see a jump from 1.8 million to 3.6 million, or some 20% of the population in Israel. The overall Israeli population was predicted to hit 18 million by 2059 (up from 8.6 million in 2017), with 14.4 million Jews.

The CBS projections were announced on Thursday by IDI, with the full report expected next week.

The Israel Democracy Institute’s Dr. Gilad Malach warned the numbers ought to serve as a wake-up call to the government to boost efforts to integrate the traditionally impoverished Arabs and ultra-Orthodox into the workforce, while noting that there have been significant strides in that area over the last decade.

“It is time to stop treating Arabs and Haredim [ultra-Orthodox] as liabilities who produce a drag on economic performance, and start treating them as resources that could vault Israel’s economy into the top 10 of the OECD,” Malach said in a statement.

According to the IDI, employment among Arab women is up 57% over the past 10 years, while employment of ultra-Orthodox men has climbed 30% over that same period.

However, the numbers still dip below the rest of the population, IDI said. Among non-ultra-Orthodox Israeli Jewish men, 87% are employed, while 77% of Arab men, and 52% of ultra-Orthodox men are active in the workforce. Similarly, while 82% of Israeli Jewish women work, 73% of ultra-Orthodox women and just 32% of Arab women are employed, according to IDI.

“The investment in these communities over the last decade has led to positive results. But there is still a long road ahead,” Malach said. “Now, we need to focus on increasing the quality of employment within these sectors. This will better improve Israel’s national productivity rate and move families out of poverty.”

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