Israel will become a far more crowded country centered on Tel Aviv in the next 35 years. That was the main message of the Israel-2048 planning conference held last week.
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In the event of moderate population growth, the Central Bureau of Statistics forecasts that the population of Israel within the Green Line will reach 13.8 million instead of today’s 8 million people, said national planner Ari Cohen. He added that the figure includes 3.1 million ultra-Orthodox Jews and 3.3 million Arabs.
Cohen, who heads the team responsible for updating Tama 35, the national master plan for construction and development, said the population of the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea would grow at an even faster rate. According to Cohen, a simulation based on CBS population growth forecasts showed that by 2048 the population in this area would reach between 20 million and 28 million people, compared to 13 million today.
However, the main problem affecting Israel’s development according to Cohen will be the distribution of the population, with the CBS predicting that the Jewish population will continue to flow toward greater Tel Aviv. The metropolitan area from Netanya to Ashdod is predicted to have 6.36 million residents by 2048 − about half the state’s forecasted population, 95% of them Jews.
The Jerusalem region, not including Arab communities in the West Bank, will have 1.65 million people, 75% of them Jews. In contrast, the Negev will be 60% Arab and 40% Jewish, while the Jewish and Arab populations of the Galilee region will be roughly even.
This will make residential planning and construction even more difficult in 2048 than what Israelis are currently used to, said Hebrew University geography professor Eran Feitelson. He said that housing prices would continue to rise due to crowding and that the pressure on land resources and infrastructure would continue to grow. He also predicted that the state will find it difficult to reach decisions on planning issues because the number of people opposed to planning decisions will increase.
Israel will also continue to urbanize, with reports from the Tama 35 team predicting that 6.35 million Israelis will live in cities by 2048, more than double the number today. This increase, the team predicted, would require the construction of an additional 1.3 million housing units. Cohen stated that this would almost certainly require rezoning undeveloped land for construction.