Israel prepares Palestinian census ahead of sovereignty move

The sovereignty plan will put thousands of Palestinians under Israeli jurisdiction. 

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israeli officials are preparing to carry out a census of Palestinians currently living in areas that are expected to be annexed in the near future, Kan Radio reported Thursday.

Officials want to determine how many Palestinian towns and villages will fall inside the areas of several settlement blocs that will come under direct Israeli rule.

The defense establishment estimates that the number of Palestinians will reach into the tens of thousands.

The census is expected to be carried out by teams from the Israeli Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, who will check the population numbers including towns like Jiftlik in the Jordan Valley that is estimated to have 5,000 residents.

The counting will focus on areas most of which are now defined as Area C within the settlement blocks, including Samaria, the Jordan Valley and Gush Etzion in Judea.

The goal is to “freeze” the size of the current population in order to prevent Palestinians from entering the areas just before they are annexed in a bid to gain Israeli residency or even citizenship, the report said.

The teams of three to five inspectors will be accompanied by security details and equipped with technological means to carry out the census. Their mission is to move from house to house in designated villages and count the Palestinian homes to understand how many “new residents” might be joining the State of Israel if the areas are annexed.

Senior Israeli police officers this week conducted field patrols and met with settlement officials to discuss the main concern, at least in Israel, that once the declaration of the annexation process begins, Palestinians will try to move and settle in territories designated for Israeli sovereignty.

So far, it is not possible to estimate exactly how many Palestinians will be annexed to Israel because the drawing of the new boundaries is not yet complete and the census numbers from the Palestinian Authority cannot be relied on.

At the beginning of the year, Yesha Council Chairman David Elhayani sent a letter to Netanyahu explaining the need for the census. Elhayani never got an answer, but the authorities now appear to be discussing this possibility.

“The census is important to prevent the leakage [into Israel] of thousands of Palestinians whose purpose is to obtain an Israeli ID card,” Elhayani said.