Jordan: We Do Not Want Palestinians
- “Improve the living conditions of the Palestinian refugees. Allow them to settle down. Give them citizenship so that they can live as human beings.” — Dr. Ahmad Abu Matar, an Oslo-based Palestinian academic, blasting Arab the world for its continued mistreatment of Palestinians
- The Arabs do not care about the Palestinians and want them to remain Israel’s problem. Countries such as Lebanon and Syria would rather see Palestinians living as “animals in the jungle” than grant them basic rights such as employment, education and citizenship.
- It is no surprise that refugees fleeing Syria have no ambitions to settle in any Arab country. They know that their fate in the Arab world will be no better than that of Palestinians living in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries.
A recent decision by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to cut back its services has left Jordan and other Arab countries extremely worried about the possibility that they may be forced to grant citizenship rights to millions of Palestinians.
During the last few weeks, many Jordanians have expressed deep concern that the UNRWA measures may be part of a “conspiracy” to force the kingdom to resettle Palestinian refugees.
According to UNRWA figures, more than two million registered Palestinian refugees live in Jordan. Most of the refugees, but not all, have full (Jordanian) citizenship, the figures show. The refugees live in 10 UNRWA-recognized camps in Jordan.
Although there is no official census data for how many inhabitants are Palestinian, they are estimated to constitute half of Jordan’s population, which is estimated at seven million. Some claim that the Palestinians actually make up two-thirds of the kingdom’s population.Jordan is the only Arab country that has granted citizenship to Palestinians. Still, many Jordanians see their presence in the kingdom as temporary.
Over the past few decades, the Jordanians’ biggest nightmare has been the talk about resettling the Palestinians in the kingdom by turning them into permanent citizens. The talk about turning Jordan into a Palestinian state has also created panic and anger among Jordanians.
Jordan’s “demographic problem” resurfaced last week when a senior Jordanian politician warned against plans to resettle Palestinian refugees in the kingdom.
Taher al-Masri, a former Jordanian prime minister who is closely associated with the ruling Hashemite monarchy, sounded the alarm in an interview with a Turkish news agency.
Commenting on UNRWA’s severe financial crisis, which has resulted in cutting back services to Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, al-Masrisaid: “I believe this is part of a plan to turn the issue of the Palestinian refugees into an internal problem of Jordan. UNRWA is paving the way for liquidating the Palestinian cause.”
Al-Masri, whose views often reflect those of the monarchy, expressed fear that the UNRWA cutbacks would prompt the world to consider the idea of turning the Palestinians in Jordan into permanent citizens, especially as most of them already carry Jordanian passports.
Al-Masri and other Jordanian officials maintain that Jordan is entitled to protect its “national identity” by refusing to absorb non-Jordanians.
Earlier this week, Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour raised many eyebrows when heannounced that there were more than two million Palestinians living in Jordan who are not permanent citizens. Ensour was apparently referring to those Palestinians…….
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