Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s adviser on Israeli affairs has argued Israel could annex the West Bank while retaining its Jewish character, claiming that “the whole idea that we have to jettison Judea and Samaria to retain the Jewish characteristics of Israel is not true.”
In a video obtained by Channel 2 News, David Friedman, during a recent meeting with Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, said Israel would maintain its Jewish majority even if it made the 1.7 million Palestinians living in the West Bank Israeli citizens.
Friedman noted that currently 75 percent of Israel’s 8.16 million citizens are Jewish. He noted that Jews were multiplying while “Arab birth rate has gone down.” He also claimed that “a lot of Arabs are leaving,” though he did not offer backing for this statement.
Friedman asserted that “if you ask ten statisticians how many Arabs are living in the West Bank they couldn’t give you the right answer, because nobody really knows.
“The bottom line is under most calculations if you took the entire state of Israel from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea and you annexed all of Judea and Samaria into Israel, the Jewish population would still be about 65%. That’s the conventional wisdom right now,” he said. He noted that this excluded the Gaza Strip’s population.
“So the idea that if Jews somehow take control over Judea and Samaria it’s no longer a Jewish state, is not true. Those aren’t the numbers.”
Friedman has said in the past that Trump would support Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank and would likely back a complete annexation if Israel deemed it necessary.
Current estimates of the West Bank population, according to Israeli, Palestinian and US numbers, put the number of Palestinians at anywhere between 2.7 and 2.9 million.
Adding the more conservative 2.7 million to Israel’s current population shows the country’s Jewish numbers shrink from approximately 75% to 56%.
Adding Gaza’s population of approximately 1.7 million — as it is unlikely Israel could secure international backing for a bi-national state that excludes the Strip — further diminishes the Jewish percentage to 48.