Amman begins stripping state's Palestinians of citizenship
Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 20, 2009
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.
The new measure has increased tensions between Jordanians and Palestinians,
who make up around 70 percent of the kingdom's population.
The tensions reached their peak over the weekend when tens of thousands of
fans of Jordan's Al-Faisali soccer team chanted slogans condemning
Palestinians as traitors and collaborators with Israel. Al-Faisali was
playing the rival Wihdat soccer team, made up of Jordanian-Palestinians, in
the Jordanian town of Zarqa.
Anti-riot policemen had to interfere to stop the Jordanian fans from
lynching the Wihdat team members and their fans, eyewitnesses reported. They
said the Jordanian fans of Al-Faisali hurled empty bottles and fireworks at
the Palestinian players and their supporters.
Reports in a number of Jordanian newspapers said that the Jordanian fans
also chanted anti-Palestinian slogans and cursed Palestine, the PLO,
Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque.
Prince Ali bin Hussein, chairman of Jordan's National Football Association,
strongly condemned the racist slurs chanted by the Jordanian fans, saying
those responsible would be severely punished.
Baker al-Udwan, director of Al-Faisali team, also condemned the behavior of
his team's supporters. He said that a minority of "outcasts" and "corrupt"
elements were behind the embarrassing verbal and physical assault on the
Palestinian soccer players and their fans.
"We condemn this uncivilized demeanor and welcome any step that would result
in the elimination of this tiny group of parasites," he said.
Tarek Khoury, chairman of the Wihdat team, instructed his players to abandon
the field as soon as the Jordanian fans started hurling abuse against
Palestinians and the Aksa Mosque.
Palestinians said that the confrontation with the Jordanians was yet another
indication of increased tensions between the two sides.
"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."
He and other Palestinians said that Jordanians' "hostile" attitude toward
them had escalated after the rise to power of Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu earlier this year.
Several Jordanian government officials, they said, are convinced that
Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are secretly working toward
turning Jordan into a Palestinian state.
As a preemptive measure, the Jordanian authorities recently began revoking
the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians, leaving many of them in a
state of panic and uncertainty regarding the future.
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.
Since 1988, when the late King Hussein cut off his country's administrative
and legal ties with the West Bank, the Jordanian authorities have been
working toward "disengaging" from the Palestinians under the pretext of
preserving their national identity.
That decision, said Jordan's Interior Minister Nayef al-Kadi, was taken at
the request of the PLO and the Arab world to consolidate the status of the
PLO as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
"Our goal is to prevent Israel from emptying the Palestinian territories of
their original inhabitants," the minister 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
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.
The Jordanian minister said that the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank
had been notified of the decision to revoke the Jordanian citizenship of
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.
Asked by the London-based Al-Hayat daily where the Palestinians should go
after they lose their Jordanian passports, the minister replied: "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."
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."