Israels population expected to hit 6 million during 1998

The Bureau's population breakdown showed that 4.7 million Israelis, or about 80 percent, are Jews, while 1.2 million are Arabs or other minorities.

Bordering Arab countries, which according to U.N. figures had a combined population of 28 million in 1950, showed a population of 87 million at the end of 1996, the bureau said.

The former Soviet Union continues to provide the largest source of immigrants, although the number of newcomers from these lands is on the decrease. Some 82 percent of immigrants in 1997 were from former Soviet republics. In all there were 66,500 immigrants last year, a 6 percent drop from 1996.

In all, there have been some 2.6 million immigrants since Israel was founded. Some 59 percent have come from Europe, 18 percent from Africa, 15 percent from Asia, and 8 percent from the Americas and other countries.