The birthrate for Jews and Arabs west of the Jordan River is almost at parity, the latest demographic study by the Central Bureau of Statistics says. Released Monday on the eve of a Muslim festival, the study shows that among Muslims, the birth rate at the end of 2015 was 3.3 children per family unit, compared to 3.1 for Jewish households.
The Muslim birth rate has been on the decline for several years, but it is still higher than in many neighboring Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia (3.0 children per family unit), Algeria (2.7), Tunisia (2.1), and Lebanon (1.5). Among Christians, the birth rate was 2.1 children, and for Druze it was 2.2 percent.
Bedouins in southern Israel had the highest birth rate of any population in Israel, with 5.4 children per family. Among Galilee Arabs, the number was 2.8 children.
At the end of 2015, there were 1.488 million Muslims who were citizens of the state of Israel, 18 percent of the total population. The Muslim population grew 2.4 percent in 2015, compared to 1.9 percent for Jews, 1.5 percent for Christians, and 1.4 percent for Druze. About half the Muslim population lives in northern Israel, 14 percent of them in the Haifa area. Yerushalayim, with 21.7 percent, is another center of population for Arabs, while 16.2 percent live in southern Israel. Only 1.1 percent live in the Tel Aviv area.
Among individual cities, Yerushalayim had the highest number of Muslim residents, with 311,000, 21 percent of all Israeli Muslims. The Negev bedouin town of Rahat had 62,000 residents, 99.8 percent of whom were Muslim. Other cities with large Muslim populations were Nazareth (53,000) and Umm el-Faham (52,000).