Joel Mowbray

When the PA conducted its first-ever census in 1997, it counted a lot more four-, five-, and six-year-olds than Israel had birth records for (prior to stopping official counts in 1994 to prepare for handover of civilian authority).  To account for the sudden discovery of more children than had been recorded born in years prior, the PA jacked up the birth rates for 1990-1993, and used similarly high statistics for 1994-1996.  The PA ?revision? for West Bank births, for example, was almost 50% higher than Israel?s numbers for 1990-1993.

With a higher birth rate for the seven years starting in 1990, the PA then projected lofty birth rates for the years after 1997.  But a funny thing happened from 1998 onward: the birth rates returned to the modest levels typical of modern societies.

Each year, the PA Ministry of Health releases birth statistics for Gaza and the West Bank.  And each time the numbers fell substantially short of what the PA had projected in 1997.  To fix this ?problem,? the PA in 2002 ?revised? birth records going back to 1997.  And guess what?  The ?revised? numbers nearly matched the 1997 projections.

There are two other main areas where the PA practices ?fuzzy math,? and both have to do with counting people who don?t live in the territories.  The PA counts people with Palestinian ID cards who have been living elsewhere for more than a year, and it also counts people it predicted would immigrate into the territories but never did.

The breakdown is as follows: some 300,000 Palestinians are living abroad long-term, another 150,000 have moved into Israel, and though the PA predicted in 1997 that some 235,000 new immigrants would have arrived by now, Israeli border control records show net outward migration of over 70,000, for a total gap of roughly 300,000.

For anyone who doubts the accuracy of the study, it is available for public consumption and inspection at

The study already has at least one unlikely ally: the Palestine Central Elections Commission.  According to the agency?s own October 14 press release, a million Palestinians had registered to vote, which represented two-thirds of adults.  Of the 1.5 million eligible adults (not counting 110,000 eligible Jerusalem Arabs), the release stated that 200,000 were living abroad. 

This PA-released figure meshes almost exactly with the study?s final conclusion that the actual Palestinian population is approximately 2.4 million.

So now that at least part of the PA apparatus has (unintentionally) agreed with the new demographic study, the question becomes: will the U.S., the E.U., the U.N., and Israel also disown the myth of 3.8 million Palestinians?

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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