School Begins for 2+ Million Israeli Kids

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel's new school year begins Tuesday with nearly 2.13 million students, roughly a quarter of the total population and an increase of 60,000 students from last year. About 150,000 students are starting school for the first time this year.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Shai Piron were on hand in the coastal city of Netanya to greet the children.

Piron expressed what many Israelis feel: excitement "…that more than 2 million students and tens of thousands of teachers" are starting school today.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and MK Tzipi Hotovely, along with President Shimon Peres, welcomed returning students in the nation's capital.

On Independence Day 2013, the Central Bureau of Statistics listed Israel's population as 8,018,000, a tenfold increase since the establishment of the modern nation-state in 1948.

Of that figure, 6,042,000, or 75 percent, are Jews; 1,658,000, or 20.7 percent, are Arabs, both Christian and Muslim. And an estimated 4 percent of Israelis, 318,000, are non-Arab Christians.

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