Israeli demographer: Arabs nearly equal Jews in Holy Land

Israel's leading demographics expert is defending military figures indicating parity between Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land that sparked outrage in nationalist circles.

Sergio Della Pergola, a demographer from Jerusalem's Hebrew University, said on Tuesday the number of Arabs is nearly equal that of Jews if you include the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

Nationalist lawmakers attacked a senior military officer in parliament this week for saying there are 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, accusing him of inflating the numbers.

Della Pergola says the military's figures align with his data and to suggest otherwise is "childish."

Jews make up about 80 percent of Israel. Advocates of a two-state solution have long warned the country risks losing its Jewish majority if nothing changes.