Last updated at 10:05 PM on 1st November 2011
Jews could become a minority in Israel if Palestinians are given the vote in a single-state solution, it has been claimed.
Israel, a country of 7.7million people, is traditionally a majority Jewish country with the ethnic split is roughly 75 per cent Jewish and 20 per cent Palestinian.
However, if the disputed territories of Gaza and the West Bank we absorbed by Israel into one state, the population would climb to just over 11million people and the balance would narrow to around 50 per cent Jewish and 46 per cent Palestinian.
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The Palestinians birth rate far outweighs that of its neighbour and experts say that the new narrower Jewish majority would quickly be wiped out.
We have two alternatives,’ Professor Arnon Soffer from the University of Haifi told CNN.
‘To keep the majority, the rule within the Jewish majority, which will mean apartheid.
‘Or free elections, which will mean a Palestinian majority and the end of the Jewish state.’
The problem has been dubbed a ‘demographic timebomb’ by Israeli commentators.
Government policies, including Jewish immigration and natural growth, have thus far maintained their majority.
Meanwhile, an Egyptian official said today that Israel has agreed to briefly delay expanding its military operations in the Gaza Strip.
This has been done to give Egypt time to try to persuade Palestinian militant factions to halt rocket fire on southern Israel.
Israeli aircraft have targeted rocket squads in Gaza in recent days, but the Egyptian official says Israel has also planned a wider operation.
The official says Egypt asked for 24 hours to try to bring all factions into an informal cease-fire and Israel agreed to give Cairo until around midnight on Tuesday.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss Egyptian mediation. The Israeli defence ministry had no immediate comment.
But on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned from the podium of the Israeli parliament that Israel would operate ‘vigorously and resolutely’ against those who would threaten its security.
‘A security philosophy cannot rely on defence alone,’ Netanyahu said.
‘It must also include offensive capabilities, the very foundation of deterrence.’
At least 10 militants and an Israeli civilian have been killed in recent days in the worst violence in the area in months.
The Islamic Jihad faction had led the attacks that began last week, but on Sunday it agreed to stop the violence if Israel also did.
Rocket fire that drew retaliatory Israeli airstrikes persisted, but it was claimed by a different militant group.
Gaza’s Hamas leaders have not directly been involved in the attacks but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all violence from the territory.