In a surprise move, Jordan has decided to revoke the Jordanian citizenship of
Palestinian Authority and PLO officials, sources in Amman disclosed
The sources said the decision would also affect the leaders of
the PA, who would be granted temporary Jordanian passports to facilitate their
The move coincides with a new electoral law in Jordan that seeks
to limit Palestinian representation in parliament.
The latest steps are
seen in the context of Jordan’s 1988 decision to sever all legal and
administrative ties with the West Bank, except for Jordanian sponsorship of
Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.
The late King Hussein justified the move
then by arguing that it was intended to help the Palestinians establish their
own independent state.
Amman has defended the decision to strip
Palestinians of their Jordanian citizenship by explaining that it is aimed at
“preserving the Palestinians’ national identity and paving the way for their
return to Palestine.”
It is unknown at this stage if PA President Mahmoud
Abbas would be stripped of his Jordanian citizenship, the sources told Saudi
Jordan’s Interior Minister Mohammed Al-Raud is
expected to visit Ramallah to inform the Palestinian leadership of the decision,
the sources added.
In recent years the Jordanians have stripped thousands of Palestinians of their Jordanian citizenship in an apparent
response to calls to establish a Palestinian state in Jordan. Nearly half the
kingdom’s 6 million people are of Palestinian origin.
Al-Raud will also
discuss with Abbas the status of Palestinian refugees living in Syria who have
begun fleeing to Jordan in recent months.
Some 1,100 Palestinians have
been stranded along the border between Syria and Jordan for the past few weeks
after the Jordanian authorities refused to allow them into the
Nearly 100,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan since the beginning
of the crisis in their country 13 months ago.
“The Jordanian minister
will tell the Palestinian president that he can’t in any way receive the
refugees,” the sources told the paper. “He will also inform Abbas that the
Jordanian authorities are thinking of establishing a buffer zone along the
border with Syria where the refugees could stay.”
authorities have placed 17 Palestinian refugees who fled the violence under
house arrest in a refugee camp along the border with Syria for Syrian
The Jordanian government is working on a security plan aimed at
preventing the flow of tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees to the kingdom,
the sources said, noting that nearly half a million Palestinians live in
The Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab Al- Yawm
said senior officials of
the Interior Ministry and top security officers would accompany the Jordanian
interior minister on his visit to Ramallah.
The paper quoted government
officials in Amman as saying that the decision to revoke the Jordanian
citizenship would affect some 1.6 million Jordanians of Palestinian
The Jordanian delegation will also discuss with Palestinian
leaders in Ramallah the extradition of Palestinians the PA is seeking to arrest
for various crimes, first and foremost financial corruption, the paper
A PA official in Ramallah confirmed that the Jordanian minister
was planning on visiting Ramallah. He said that the visit would take place on
However, the official said he knew nothing about a decision to
revoke the Jordanian citizenship of PA officials and other
A spokesman for the Jordanian Interior Ministry, Ziad
Zu’bi, said his Palestinian counterpart invited the minister to Ramallah to
discuss bilateral cooperation.
Zu’bi denied that the visit had anything
to do with revoking the citizenship of Palestinians.
In a related
development, Jordanian parliament members criticized a new electoral law, which
they say is aimed at limiting representation of Jordanians of Palestinian origin
Khalil Atiyeh, a Jordanian MP, pointed out that the
controversial law “ignores half of the Jordanian people” – a reference to those
of Palestinian origin.
Atiyeh told the London-based Al- Quds Al-Arabi
newspaper that under the new law, the city of Russeifa near Amman would have
only two seats in parliament although its population is estimated at
approximately 700,000. Russeifa has a large Palestinian
population. Experts said the new law would reduce Palestinian
representation in parliament to less than 8 percent.
The law has also
enraged Jordan’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood organization, whose leaders
threatened Wednesday to call for a boycott of parliamentary elections slated
later this year.
The organization complained that the new election law
did not guarantee a proportional representation system and favors regime
Jordanian Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh said the new law lies
in the hands of the parliament, and his government would defend the law despite
“It is only a draft law and there might be some negative
comments on it,” Khasawneh explained.
He added that the Jordanian
government “will have no fears” if Islamists won the majority of seats in
The law envisages a mixed electoral system featuring a
majority vote in the districts and a closed proportional list at the national
level, while raising the number of seats to 138, of which 15 seats will be
designated for the women’s quota.