Thus, not even counting Palestinians in Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the Gulf states, Israel's 7 million to 8 million Jews in 2050 will be living with 13 million Palestinians in Israel, Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank. If Israel is to survive as a Jewish state, a separate and independent Palestinian state would seem an imperative.
Yet, as Israelis continue to build outposts and expand and add settlements, the possibility of a Palestinian state recedes. Indeed, many Israelis, seeing what an end to the occupation produced in Gaza, refuse to consider any pullout at all from the West Bank.
Such a policy of holding on and digging in is sometimes the best one -- but only if time is on one's side. Is time on Israel's side?
According to the world population statistics from the National Policy Institute, the worldwide Arabic population in 1950 was only 94 million, less than 4 percent of the world population. But by 2050, it will be 700 million, 7 percent of a world population of almost 10 billion.
According to U.N. population experts, Lebanon's population will grow to 5 million in 2050, but Syria's will almost double from today's 20 million to 34 million. The population of Saudi Arabia will rise from 24 million to 45 million. Egypt will grow by more than 50 million to 121 million Egyptians by 2050. The Islamic Republic of Iran, 71 million today, is expected to reach 100 million at mid-century.
And, demography aside, the Islamic faith of Israel's neighbors is becoming militant. Hamas now controls Gaza. Hezbollah now controls Southern Lebanon and is becoming the power in Beirut. While Egypt is headed by a pro-American autocrat, the principal rival for power is the widely popular Muslim Brotherhood.
Those who do not like the Saudi monarchy should consider what is likely to rise in its place, should the House of Saud fall. The same is true of the Jordanian and Moroccan monarchies, and the sheikdoms, emirates and sultanates of the Persian Gulf.
In any struggle of generations, the critical question is often: Whose side is time on? As President Bush celebrates Israel's 60th birthday, and is celebrated in turn as Israel's best friend ever, it is a fair question to ask.
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