(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Thousands of Jordanians in a citizenship limbo because of their West Bank roots may be on their way to rescue amid reports that the government is about to revise an Orwellian policy that deprived them of their passports and papers unannounced and without explanation.
More than 2,700 Jordanians were stripped of their nationality between 2004 and 2008 and many more faced a similar threat, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch. A quarter of a million Palestinians expelled from Kuwait to Jordan after the 1991 Gulf War are at particular risk for nationality deprivation, it said. Many have stopped dealings with the government for fear they would find themselves stateless.
Officially there is no change in the policy and no official Jordanian comment on the matter was available. But government sources have reportedly confirmed a policy overhaul on the matter was in the works.
"We welcome this step by the government," Sa'id Diab, secretary-general
of the opposition Jordanian Democratic Popular Union Party, told The
Media Line. "The revocation of nationality should have stopped a long
time ago. It harmed large segments of Jordanian society."
The Palestinians who left or were expelled in the 1948 war that led to
creation of Israel have created a citizenship dilemma for the countries
hosting them. In Lebanon, 220,000 Palestinians still live in refugee
camps, deprived of jobs and citizen's rights. Last July, Lebanon
amended its Labor Law, for the first time allowing Palestinians to file
for work permits.
In Jordan, some 70% of the population is Palestinian in origin, many of
whom have been given full citizenship while an estimated two millions
live as refugees. Authorities have justified their policy of revoking
citizenship to some of those who already had it as a means of countering
Israeli plans to transfer Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan.
Darwish Al-Qawasmi, a Jordanian-born merchant of Palestinian parentage,
is one of the victims of Jordan’s population policy. Two years ago, he
had his ID number revoked when he went to renew his passport. The
decision meant his family was no longer entitled to education or health
"I was told that my Israeli family visitation permit for the West Bank
had expired," he told The Media Line. "They immediately typed into the
computer: 'should not be treated as a Jordanian, but as a
Diab said that revoking a citizen's nationality was illegal.
"Many legal opinions oppose this," he said. "It is, in fact, more a political matter than a legal one."
Government sources told the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-'Arabi
were now preparing a comprehensive policy concerning the citizenship of
Jordanians of Palestinian origin.
Past Jordanian governments usually refrained from revoking nationality,
and the practice only became commonplace under the current government,
Diab added. Ironically the Palestinians most vulnerable to having their
citizenship revoked were those most firmly rooted in Jordan and no
longer have significant family or business ties with the West Bank,
according to Cristoph Wilcke, a senior Middle East researcher at Human
Wilcke told The Media Line that the issue of nationality revocation was
so sensitive, that the Royal Palace attempted to ban the publishing of
an article in the Jordanian weekly Al-Majd, claiming that King Abdullah
was reconsidering the policy.
The article, eventually published on October 11, reported that the
Jordanian Ministry of Interior recently stopped revoking citizens'
nationality after receiving direct orders from the Royal Court. It
claimed that in recent months, many Palestinian Jordanians had avoided
renewing their identity cards or requesting voting ballots for the
upcoming parliamentary elections for fear of having their nationality
In 1988 Jordan officially severed its political and economic ties with
the West Bank, annexed by the Hashemite Kingdom in 1950. It also
withdrew Jordanian nationality from all West Bank Palestinians. King
Hussein explained the move in his support for Palestinian independence,
acknowledging the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian
Jordanian officials have previously expressed concern over a crawling
transfer of West Bank Palestinians into Jordan by Israeli authorities.
"Our goal is to prevent Israel from emptying the Palestinian territories
of their original inhabitants," Jordanian Interior Minister Nayef
Al-Qadi told the Arab daily Al-Hayat
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>