Information on whether a person born in the late 1960s in Jordan of Palestinian parents whose nationality is listed as Jordanian on the birth certificate, has Jordanian citizenship and the rights associated with it, and whether his/her status would change if the person holds a United Nations Work and Relief Agency (UNWRA) certificate issued in 1993 indicating that the holder is registered as a Palestinian in Jordan [JOR22351.E]

The following interview was held in Amman, Jordan, on 27 May 1995 with a human rights lawyer who defends nationality cases for Palestinians in Jordan. The interview focused on the issue of Palestinian and Jordanian nationality and Jordanian passports for Palestinians.

The lawyer stated that it is important to understand some historical facts. Palestine has two separate territories, Gaza and the West Bank. Before 1967 the Gaza Strip was linked with Egypt and the West Bank with Jordan. According to this partition, all residents of the West Bank were considered Jordanian nationals. After 1967 the Jordanian authorities continued to provide financial assistance to the West Bank civil administration, while the Israeli military administration ruled by military decrees. However, these military decrees also regulated the civil administration since the Israeli's were controlling the territory through occupation. In fact, the Israeli administration controlled the entire administration of the West Bank. Therefore, there has been few connections between legal development in Jordan and the rule of law in the West Bank under Israeli occupation.

In 1988, King Hussein decided to sever the ties between Jordan and the West Bank. Before 1988 all West Bank Palestinians held 5-year Jordanian passports and were considered Jordanian citizens. After 1988, all West Bank Palestinians became stateless.

According to the 1988 decision, all Palestinians who were living in the West Bank before 1 August 1988 were Palestinian nationals. The declaration also stated that all the leaders of the PLO are not Jordanians but Palestinians. In practice, however, the Jordanian authorities use this declaration to strip some Jordanians of Palestinian origin of their Jordanian citizenship. Several of these cases involve Palestinians who were never members of the PLO and never lived in the West Bank. The means by which Jordanian citizenship would be revoked is by replacing the 5 year passport by a two-year Jordanian passport during the renewal procedures.

The lawyer has had cases where holders of 2-year Jordanian passports were "accompanied" to the border by Jordanian police and forced to leave Jordan. The holder of a 2-year passport cannot obtain a driver's licence, own an apartment or buy land without special permission from the Prime Minister, send his/her children to school without special permission from the Ministry of Education, obtain food coupons, vote, etc. If the holder of a 2-year passport wants to establish a business he/she must pay at least 100,000 Jordanian Dinars (1 Jordanian Dinar = CDN$ 2) as a share holder. This amount of money must not represent more than 50 per cent of the business' total financing. It is also more difficult for the holder of a 2-year Jordanian passport to be granted a foreign visa from foreign embassies in Jordan.

Palestinians living in Jordan before 1988 who were holding 5-year passports were supposed to become Jordanian nationals, however some of them did not. No one in the Ministry of the Interior has provided an explanation for the refusals. This is due to the importance of the discretionary power of the Jordanian authorities.

Palestinians coming from the Gulf also face problems. For example, a Palestinian who went to the Gulf before 1988 with a 5-year Jordanian passport, which was renewed regularly at a local Jordanian Embassy, could come back to Jordan after 1988 and receive a 2-year Jordanian passport because he/she was not a resident of Jordan before 1988.

A West Bank Palestinian who wants to go to Jordan would have to request an exit permit from the Israeli administration. If the request is accepted, the Palestinian receives a green exit permit from the Israeli military administration. The Israeli green exit permit provides the right to leave the West Bank through the King Hussein Bridge between the West Bank and Jordan. The Palestinian would have to leave his/her Teudat Zehut (Israeli identity card) with the Israeli military authority in the West Bank. Once in Jordan, the Palestinian has to show the Israeli green exit permit to the Jordanian border control. It is not possible to enter Jordan without the Israeli green exit permit. The Jordanians would provide either a Jordanian yellow residence permit, or a Jordanian green residence permit. These two cards only provide the right of residence in Jordan. The yellow permits lasts 2 months and the holder needs special permission to renew it. The Jordanian green residence permit contains the dates of entry and exit from Jordan to the West Bank. They can be renewed only when the space entry on the card for the entry and exit dates is full. When West Bank Palestinians want to return to the West Bank from Jordan they have to present the Israeli green exit permit to the Israeli military authorities. Upon reception of the green exit permit, the Israeli military authorities return the Teudat Zehut to the West Bank Palestinian.

According to the lawyer, Palestinians who hold Jordanian nationality could have it revoked by the Ministry of Interior and the Secret Service at any time. This is, in the lawyer's opinion, a means by which the Jordanian authorities exert control on the political activities of the Palestinians in Jordan. There is no right to appeal a citizenship revocation. When the lawyer presents a revocation case to the court there is no discussion of the issues. The court simply declares that it is a State Order and it does not fall under the court's mandate. This is an indirect way to negate the right of appeal.

The following information was provided during a telephone interview on 28 November 1995 with the same human rights lawyer who defends nationality cases for Palestinians in Jordan.

In principle, Palestinians born of parents living in Jordan (excluding the West Bank) would have full Jordanian citizenship. According to 1988 regulations, the Jordanian authorities and the Security Services benefit from important discretionary powers from the 1988 King's Declaration to revoke a person's citizenship and to decide who is a Jordanian and who is not. The lawyer stated that appealing the government's decisions on the issue of nationality is practically impossible since the Jordanian courts do not accept cases of citizenship revocation. The responsibility for revoking a citizen's nationality falls under the mandate of the Ministry of the Interior. The Ministry usually makes revocation decisions based on the political activities of the person.

According to the lawyer, Palestinian individuals register with UNWRA only if they are granted refugee status in Jordan. Many Palestinians have both UNWRA documents and Jordanian citizenship.

There are two circumstances under which Palestinian holders of 5-year Jordanian passports might not have their rights recognized as Jordanian citizens: 1) if the person holds an Israeli identity document either from the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, or an Egyptian document from the Gaza Strip; 2) if the person is in the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). This explains why a person with a 5-year Jordanian passport does not always have the rights of a national of Jordan. Whether the person was born before 1988 does not affect the two circumstances cited above.

For an example of the Jordanian court's handling of Jordanian passport cases, please consult The Palestine Yearbook of International Law (1990-1991, 68-71). For a copy of the 1988 King's Declaration on the severance of administrative ties with the West Bank and some legal comments on this announcement, please consult The Palestine Yearbook of International Law (1987-1988, 297-300). For additional information on the issue of nationality and 2-year passport in Jordan (pp. 31-37), please refer to the attached article from the Arab Studies Quarterly (1995), and the BBC Summary of World Broadcasts (24 Oct. 1995).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Human rights lawyer, Amman, Jordan. 27 May 1995. Interview in Amman.
_____. 28 November 1995. Telephone interview.


Arab Studies Quarterly Winter-Spring 1995. Uri Davis. "Jinsiyya Versus Muwatana: The Question of Citizenship and the State in the Middle East: The Cases of Israel, Jordan and Palestine." Vol. 17, No. 1-2, pp. 19-50.

Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan Radio, Amman. 22 October 1995. Reproduced by the BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 24 October 1995. "Minister: Extension of West Bankers' Passport Does not Make Them Jordanian." (NEXIS)

The Palestine Yearbook of International Law. 1990-1991. "The Legal Status of Palestinian in the West Bank." Vol. 6, pp. 68-71.

_____ 1987-1988. "H.M. King Hussein's Statement on the Severance of Jordan's Relationship with the West Bank." Vol. 4, pp. 297-300.