Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jordan revokes citizenship of Palestinian Arabs

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Jul. 20, 2009, by Khaled Abu Toameh:

Jordanian authorities have started revoking the citizenship of thousands of Palestinian[ Arab]s living in Jordan to avoid a situation in which they would be "resettled" permanently in the kingdom, Jordanian and Palestinian officials revealed on Monday. The new measure has increased tensions between Jordanians and Palestinian[ Arab]s, who make up around 70 percent of the kingdom's population.

..."Many Palestinian[ Arab]s 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 Palestinian[ Arab]s 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. ..."Our goal is to prevent Israel from emptying the Palestinian territories of their original inhabitants," [Jordan's Interior Minister Nayef al-Kadi] explained, confirming that the kingdom had begun revoking the citizenship of Palestinians. "We should be thanked for taking this measure," he said. "We are fulfilling our national duty because Israel wants to expel the Palestinians from their homeland."

Kadi said that, despite the new policy, Palestinians would be permitted to retain their status as residents of the kingdom by holding "yellow ID cards" that are issued to those who have families and homes in the West Bank. He said that Palestinians working for the Palestinian Authority or the PLO were among those who have had their Jordanian passports taken from them, in addition to anyone who did not serve in the Jordanian army.

...A PA official in Ramallah expressed deep concern over Jordan's latest move and said that it would only worsen the conditions of Palestinians living in the kingdom. The official said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas raised the issue with King Abdullah II on a number of occasions, but the Jordanians have refused to retract.

...Kadi claimed that the kingdom was seeking, through the new measure, to thwart an Israeli "plot" to transfer more Palestinians to Jordan with the hope of replacing it with a Palestinian state.

"We insist that Jordan is not Palestine, just as Palestine is not Jordan," he stressed. "We will continue to help the Palestinians hold on to their Palestinian identity by pursuing the implementation of the 1988 disengagement plan from the West Bank."
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