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Why Is Jordan Keeping Out Palestinian Refugees?


By Khaled Abu Toameh
April 17, 2012

More than 1,000 Palestinians who fled from the violence in Syria and were hoping to find temporary shelter in Jordan, have been stranded along the border between Syria and Jordan for the past few weeks. The Jordanian authorities have been refusing to allow them into the kingdom.

The Jordanian authorities have set up a makeshift refugee camp along the border with Syria, where the Palestinians are being held in tents, with poor sanitary conditions.

Jordan's treatment of Palestinian refugees is not uncommon for an Arab country. Lebanon and Egypt have also refused to grant asylum to the fleeing Palestinians. This is also not the first time that an Arab country keeps Palestinians waiting on the border. In the past, Palestinians have also been denied entry into Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Libya.

Arab support for the Palestinians has been largely rhetorical over the past two decades, forcing the Palestinians to become almost entirely dependent on American and EU taxpayers' money.

Meanwhile, an additional 100,000 Syrians, who have fled their country in the past year, have been permitted to enter Jordan.

The Jordanians are worried that if they allow a few hundred Palestinians to settle in the kingdom, that would create a precedent and pave the way for 500,000 Palestinians living in Syria to run away to Jordan.

As Jordan's King Abdullah already has a problem with the 80% Palestinian majority in his kingdom, he does not want the Palestinians in the kingdom. They pose a demographic threat to the Jordanians.

The decision to ban the Palestinian refugees from entering Jordan coincided with reports that the Jordanian authorities have begun revoking the Jordanian citizenship of Palestinians which they had previously been given.

Because the Palestinians pose a demographic threat to the Jordanians, hundreds of thousands of them living in Jordan will lose their status as Jordanian citizens.

The Jordanian government, according to sources in Amman, has even decided to revoke the Jordanian citizenship of Palestinian Authority leaders, including Mahmoud Abbas.

King Abdullah this week dispatched a high level delegation to Ramallah to discuss the new measures against the Palestinians with the Palestinian leadership. Headed by Jordan's interior minister, the delegation informed the Palestinians that the kingdom would not be able to help the Palestinians who fled from Syria.

King Abdullah is so worried about the talk, mainly in Israel, about the need to establish a Palestinian state in Jordan that he has just instructed his government to come up with a new electoral law that would keep Palestinians away from parliament and most government institutions altogether.


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