JERUSALEM — Israel's Jewish majority is gradually shrinking due to a drop in Jewish immigration and a high birthrate among the country's Arab minority, according to a report released by Israel's Statistics Bureau.
Israel has long feared that its Jewish population could some day be outstripped by its Arab citizens, who now make up 18% of the population.
The report said Israel's population now totals 4.3 million--3.55 million Jews and 760,000 Arabs.
Chief Statistician Moshe Sicron told a news conference Monday that immigration to Israel had dwindled to 10,000 people in 1985 and 9,000 so far in 1986. In the same two-year period, about 29,000 Israelis emigrated, he said.
The bureau estimates that Arabs will make up 20% of Israel's citizens by the end of the century and a quarter of the population, or 1.5 million people, by 2020, Sicron said.