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Israeli population hits 7.15 million

Israel’s population rose 1.8 percent in the past 12 months to 7.15 million, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported. The increase was attributed mainly to a high birthrate. Some 148,000 babies were born in 2006, and 18,400 immigrants
arrived.Israel’s 5,415,000 Jews, and 310,000 “others” – primarily Russians and Ethiopians who made aliyah but aren’t halachically Jewish – make up nearly 80 percent of the population. Some 1,425,000 Arab and Druse citizens comprise the remaining 20 percent of the population. When the Jewish state was established in 1948, there were 806,000 residents. A third of them are still living in the country. The bureau released the data ahead of Independence Day, which begins Monday evening.