The Bitter Pill of Solidarity: Palestinians Lose Jordanian Citizenship

It was only a matter of time:

Jordanian authorities have started revoking the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians living in Jordan to avoid a situation in which they would be “resettled” permanently in the kingdom, Jordanian and Palestinian officials revealed on Monday.

“Many Palestinians living in Jordan are convinced that the Jordanian authorities are trying to squeeze them out,” said Ismail Jaber, a West Bank lawyer who has been living in the kingdom for nearly 20 years. “There is growing discontent and uncertainty among Palestinians here.”

The Jordanians have justified the latest measure by arguing that it’s aimed at avoiding a situation in which the Palestinians would ever be prevented from returning to their original homes inside Israel. [Source]

The issue of the Palestinians in Jordan is easily one of the most controversial and at the same time unheeded.

Having passed three years composing my doctoral thesis (and, Inshallah, first book) on the issue of Palestinians and citizenship in Jordan, I understand the frustration felt by both sides.

Whether Jordan is truly revoking the citizenship of the Palestinians in order to facilitate repatriation at the appropriate juncture is questionable; more likely, they are merely protecting their territorial interests.

Is this justified? Many would agree so, and did when asked.

I listened to both sides and the arguments were strong.

I understand the Jordanian fears and their right to assert authority within their own nation.


Justifications such as the one below, promulgated by Jordan’s Interior Minister, Nayef al-Kadi, undermine the essence of kindness that the authorities advocate:

We’re not expelling anyone, nor are we revoking the citizenship of Jordanian nationals. We are only correcting the mistake that was created after Jordan’s disengagement from the West Bank [in 1988]. We want to highlight the true identity and nationality of every person.

The very phrase is ominous and raises the question of where relations will lead once the “true” identities are revealed.

Realistically, it is unlikely that a Palestinian state will be declared in the imminent future – at least not one that can suitably accommodate the thousands of Palestinians who will pour in from Jordan alone.

In the meantime, they must endure life in legal limbo: citizens in terms of their often lengthy residence in the Kingdom, but persona non grata when it comes to equality.

More galling is the notion that it is for their own good: the bitter pill that is being administered by many Arab states for the “benefit” of the Palestinians truly only causes more pain in the short-term.

One comment on “The Bitter Pill of Solidarity: Palestinians Lose Jordanian Citizenship

  1. loolt
    July 28, 2009

    I think you might need to clarify which Palestinians are having the citizenships revoked… because if all ‘types’ of Palestinian-Jordanians were in danger of losing their citizenship, wouldnt that mean that Jordan was considering losing well over half their population?

    On another note, punishing the Palestinians for their own benefit is an often repeated excuse. It is one used to explain the practical imprisonment of Palestinians in horrendous refugee camps in Lebanon, and to justify forcing Palestinians in Egypt to renew their visa every year… yet these same Palestinians have been their for decades!!! (mind you no one knew what would happen if they failed to renew their visa/hawiya thing, since they cant exactly be sent back home!).

    The Israelis do not need the excuse that Palestinians have citizenships in various other countries to deny them a return home… they are denied anyway. The policy Jordan is considering will only add to the hardships people face, for what reason I cannot fathom, but it will not benefit them.

    Inshallah you do finish your book, and Inshallah I will get to read it 🙂

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This entry was posted on July 28, 2009 by in Israel, Jordan, Middle East, note-to-self, Palestine and tagged , , , , .
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