Jordan promises to stop revoking citizenship from Palestinians

ID cards will be returned to 4,500 citizens stripped of their nationality in past years, Arab daily reports

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Palestinians wait at the Allenby Bridge border crossing between Israel and Jordan (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Palestinians wait at the Allenby Bridge border crossing between Israel and Jordan (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

For years, Jordan has systematically revoked its nationality from citizens of Palestinian origin. But that practice may soon end, a leading Arab daily reported Wednesday.

A senior Jordanian source told London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi that new regulations regarding Jordanian Palestinians will be issued within days, annulling the practice of citizenship revocation. Revoked citizenship cards will also be returned to some 4,500 Jordanians, the source said.

Jordan withdrew its claims over the West Bank in 1988. Under a law of disengagement subsequently passed, West Bank Palestinians living in Jordan are only eligible for citizenship as long as they prove continuous ties with the West Bank through Israeli-issued residency permits. Palestinians argue that such permits are currently virtually impossible to attain.

Jordanian officials traditionally justify the unwritten procedure as a means of preventing Israel’s forced transfer of Palestinians eastward into Jordan. But observers suspect that Jordan is more worried about its own demographic make-up than the citizenship rights of Palestinians. Although no official data exists on the subject, citizens of Palestinian origin are believed to be a majority of Jordan’s population.

In an interview with the independent Jordanian daily Al-Ghad on Tuesday, former Jordanian prime minister Ali Abu-Ghareb said that a clear citizenship law must be drafted in Jordan, limiting the power of bureaucrats to arbitrarily deprive people of their citizenship.

“We must be clear. A Jordanian citizen is Jordanian and we must stop the practice of citizenship revocation,” he told the daily.

The new procedure would allow Palestinians in Jordan — especially the 350,000 registered refugees still living in camps — better employment opportunities, the daily argued.

According to a report published by Human Rights Watch in 2010, over 2,700 Jordanians of Palestinian origin were stripped of their nationality between the years 2004 and 2008.

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