Palestinian Refugees in Jordan
Oroub Al Abed
Official name: Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Capital: Amman (population 1.9 million – 38% of total population)
Estimated population: 5.16 million
- CIA World Factbook http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/jo.html
- Jordanian embassy http://www.jordanembassyus.org/ http://www.nic.gov.jo/
Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north-west, Syria to the south, Iraq to the south-west, and Israel/Palestine to the east. It has access to the Red Sea via the port city of Aqaba, located at the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba.
Following the 1948 Arab–Israeli war approximately 900,000 Palestinian refugees were forced to flee their towns, villages, and homes. The vast majority fled to neighbouring Arab countries, including Jordan, which in 1950 had formally annexed the West Bank, where many refugees sought shelter. Another wave of Palestinian refugees fled to Jordan as a consequence of the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza along with other Arab territories. The annexation of the West Bank and the refugee flows into Jordan transformed its demographic structure, tipping the balance in favour of a Palestinian majority. Today, Palestinians in Jordan, most of whom were granted citizenship in the early 1950s, represent over half of the Jordanian population. Beyond the demographic factor, the influx of refugees into Jordan reshaped its political, socio-economic, and cultural life. The government had to adapt its policies to accommodate the new population. The British grants-in-aid contributions before the war (and from the USA after the 1960s) enabled Jordan to create its infrastructure. Furthermore, the capital brought in by the well-off Palestinians who invested in the private sector and in housing, managed to set the bases for the urban centres that were created or developed in the years to follow.
Most of the refugees – at least officially – have equal civil rights as Jordanian citizens. However, Jordanian citizenship has not cancelled the Palestinian right of return or their status as refugees.
- Jordanian Embassy http://www.jordanembassyus.org/new/jib/factsheets/overview.shtml
Palestinian refugees in Jordan
When the United Nations General Assembly (
According to the Jordanian Citizenship Law, Palestinians were granted Jordanian Citizenship. Article 3 of the 1954 law states that a Jordanian national is: "Any person with previous Palestinian nationality except the Jews before the date of May 15, 1948 residing in the Kingdom during the period from December 20, 1949 and February 16, 1954." Thus Palestinians in the East Bank and the West Bank of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan were granted Jordanian nationality.
There are no reliable figures as to the exact number of
Palestinians in Jordan, especially since many Palestinians who move between the
West and the East Bank of the Jordan river are not systematically registered.
The most reliable data is on refugees who registered with
- Arab Gateway http://www.al-bab.com/arab/countries/palestine/refugees.htm
- Badil Resource Center http://www.badil.org(assistance and protection)
- Bartleby World History Encyclopedia http://www.bartleby.com/67/3871.html
- The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/his_palestine.html
- Palestine Facts http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_1948to1967_jordan_annex.php
- PalestineRemembered.com http://www.allthatremains.com
- PalestineRemembered.org http://www.Palestineremembered.org
1967 war (El-Nakseh)
During the 1967 War Israel occupied the West Bank, the Gaza
Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. A new wave of Palestinians,
particularly those residing in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, were
forced to flee yet again from what was left of historical Palestine. They
sought shelter in countries such as Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. They were
classified as "displaced persons". In the UN General Assembly
Resolution 2252 (ES-V) of 4 July 1967, "displaced persons" were
defined as those "who have been unable to return to the Palestinian
territories occupied by Israel since 1967". Initially, Jordan did not
register Palestinian displaced in 1967, because, according to the government,
they simply moved from one part of Jordan to another, i.e. from the West to the
East Bank of Jordan. However, in the 1970s, the Jordanian Ministry of Occupied
Territories/Registry of Displaced Persons called people to register, and
240,000 displaced persons followed the call
In addition to the West Bankers, in 1967 many of the original
inhabitants and camp dwellers from Gaza also sought shelter in Jordan. The Gaza
Strip had been placed under the administrative rule of Egypt upon the signing
of the 1949 Rhodes Armistice. During the period between 1949 and 1967, the
Egyptian administration retained most of the basic legislation that was
inherited from the Ottoman and the Mandate periods, including the Palestinian
Citizenship Order of 1925
- The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/his_periods3.html
- OnWar.com http://www.onwar.com/aced/data/9999/6day1967.htm
- World Rover http://www.worldrover.com/history/jordan_history.html
1970 civil war
In March 1968, an Israeli brigade attacked the Jordanian village
of Al Karamah, under the pretext that it was the base of a growing Palestinian
Resistance Movement. Although this was by no means a military victory for the
Palestinians, the Israeli army suffered substantial losses. The incident
boosted Palestinian morale and gave the Palestine Liberation Organization
On 16 September 1970 the king declared martial law and formed a
military government to enforce it. A twenty-four-hour curfew went into effect
in Amman and Zarka, while heavy fighting between the Jordanian army and the
Palestinian Resistance Movement broke out in five cities, including Amman. The
Syrians intervened briefly but ineffectively on the side of the Palestinians;
Iraq also promised to help but that support never appeared. At the end of
September a ceasefire signed in Cairo went into effect, but small-scale
fighting continued while the Jordanian government asserted its authority. In
July 1971 the Palestinians were driven out of their last strongholds (Jerash,
Ajlun, and Irbid). Most of them fled to Syria and Lebanon; a few went to Iraq
and Occupied Territories. Estimates of the total number of casualties range
from 5,000 to 25,000; they included many Palestinian and Jordanian civilians.
Whatever the number, the Palestinian political and military presence in Jordan
had been eradicated, but the schism in Palestinian–Jordanian relations had been
- OnWar.com http://www.onwar.com/aced/data/bravo/blacksept1970.htm
- The Xenophile Historian http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/neareast/ne161.html
1988 severance of legal and administrative ties
In March 1972, shortly after the expulsion of the
Neither Israel nor the Arab world including the Palestinians
accepted King Hussein's proposal for a federation. In 1974, Jordan had to
accept the Arab consensus reached during the Arab summit held in Rabat to
Notwithstanding this recognition, King Hussein never believed
The outbreak of the Palestinian Intifada in 1987 negatively
affected King Hussein's plans for partnership with the Palestinians in the
West Bank. The Intifada provided the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories
with greater momentum and power to speak out and to liberate themselves from
the occupation without reliance on others. While Jordan's argument since
the 1974 Rabat resolutions had been that the
In 1988 a royal speech announced the administrative severance
between Jordan and the West Bank. This rendered one and a half million
Palestinians with Jordanian passports (citizens of Jordan) Palestinian
nationals. The royal speech, delivered by King Hussein on the evening of 31
July 1988, declared: "Today, we respond to the wish of the
Thus, all those living in the West Bank became categorized as
"Palestinians". In this case "Palestinians" signified
people residing in the Occupied Territories and had no legal status. Though the
king's speech contained administrative directives which were not
constitutional, they nonetheless created further anxieties and uncertainties
for the Palestinians
In 1978 the Jordanian Ministry of Information stated that there were approximately 100,000 Jordanians working in Saudi Arabia, of whom 8,000 were schoolteachers. Most of those working abroad were of Palestinian origin. When the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein decided to occupy Kuwait and the Gulf War 1990–1 erupted soon after, 350,000 Jordanians (the majority of Palestinian origins) returned to Jordan, which had to accommodate unexpected numbers of "returnees", as those expelled from the Gulf countries were classified.
The returnees added to the economic stagnation of the country. At least a tenth were forced into overcrowded refugee camps, while many others joined the unemployed. Some Palestinian returnees later chose to go to the West Bank and Gaza or to migrate elsewhere.
- Jordanian Embassy http://www.jordanembassyus.org/090599001
- Meria, "The 1991 Gulf War and Jordan's Economy" http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/2002/issue2/jv6n2a7.html
- Naser, Impact of Gulf War Immigration on the Growth of a Private Sector http://www.seas.gwu.edu/research/pdf/naser.pdf
- US Department of State http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/bgnotes/nea/jordan9510.html
There are several categories in Jordan for people holding a variety of different papers connoting different labels and giving access to different services. The various categories are outlined in the following table:
|Origin||Residence||Kind of Passport||Family Book *||Card of Crossing **||Accessibility to services|
|Jordanian - East Banker||Permanent residency in Jordan||Five year passport with the National ID Number.||yes||-||Full access|
|Jordanian - Palestinian of 1948||Permanent residency in Jordan||Five-year passport with national ID NUMBER.||yes||-||Full access|
|Jordanian - Palestinian of 1967||Permanent residency in Jordan||Five year passport with National ID Number.||yes||Yellow Card - family reunification||Full access|
|Jordanian- Palestinian of 1967||Permanent residency in the West Bank||Five-year passport without national ID number||No family book||Green Card||Work needs a work permit, university education payment in foreign fees, ownership with the approval of a ministerial council|
|Jordanian-Palestinian from Jerusalem||Permanent residency in Jerusalem||Five-year passport without national ID number||No||Green Card||Work needs a work permit, university education payment in foreign fees, ownership with the approval of a ministerial council|
|Palestinians of Gaza||Permanent residency in Jordan||Two-year temporary passport||No||In case of family reunification - Blue Card||Work needs a work permit, university education payment in foreign fees, ownership with the approval of a ministerial council|
|Palestinians of the West Bank or Gaza Strip||Permanent residency in West Bank or Gaza Strip||Palestinian authority passport (LP)||No||Permission to enter||Treated like any Arab in Jordan: as long as there is a valid residency they can access services permitted for foreigners|
Notes: * Family book: this registers the civil status of the members of the family (birth and marital status)
** Crossing Card (or Card of Crossing [the bridges]): a card given by El Mutaba wel Taftish (the inspection and follow-up department affiliated with the Ministry of the Interior in Jordan). The Yellow Card indicates that its holder is a permanent resident in Jordan and s/he is able to go to the West Bank because of the family reunification card s/he holds. The Green Card indicates that its holder lives in the West Bank and his/her visit in Jordan is temporary (one should usually provide a reason, i.e. work permit, education certificate justifying their stay). The Blue Card is for Gazans who live in Gaza or in Jordan. It indicates that they were included in family reunification cards as being able to live in Gaza.
UNRWA and the
In the early 1950s, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
Palestinian refugees, according to
At the eruption of the 1967 war
A camp, according to
In December 2002, 42 per cent of the registered Palestinian refugees (1,698,271) lived in Jordan, of whom 17 per cent lived in camps, totalling a population of 296,803.
Many refugees and displaced persons, especially those who held
Jordanian nationality, relied on their social networks and were able to settle
in urban centres. There are more than fifty-four settlements – squatter areas
where Palestinians live well-integrated into their communities. Few of them,
however, are eligible for
||No of hardship cases|
The Department of Palestinian Affairs (
In addition, any project carried out by international
In coordination with several government bodies, such as the Housing
and Urban Development Corporation and the Ministry of Planning, through funding
by the World Bank, in 1998 the
- Badil http://www.badil.org/Publications/Article74/1998/26i.htm
- FAFO http://www.fafo.no/ais/middeast/palestinianrefugees/unrwa/
- Radio Netherlands, "Jordan Needs Palestinians" http://www.rnw.nl/special/en/html/jordan020211.html
The demographic factor in Jordan, where over 60 per cent of people
are of Palestinian origins, complicates fragile and fluctuating
Palestinian–Jordanian relations. Depending on the political context, the
Jordanian government has handled the situation by either emphasizing the unity
between Palestinians and Jordanians as equal citizens in one nation-state, or
privileging a local Transjordanian identity. The
In general, Palestinians have encountered discrimination. By
focusing its strategies of recruitment and rewards on the
"asha'ir" (large Transjordanian clans), the
regime has reinforced the salience of tribal affiliation to East Banker
identity – though not all tribes enjoy the same support
There are many grassroots organizations working in refugee camps in
Jordan. Few are funded from abroad. They depend on the yearly subsidy they get
from the Department of Palestinian Affairs to sustain their humanitarian
services and projects. There are some active local and international
- Arab Women Connect http://www.arabwomenconnect.org/awc/e_database_search.asp
DPAhttp://www.dpa.gov.jo( NGOs and grassroots in camps)
- JordanDevNet http://www.jordandevnet.org/index.php3 http://www.jordandevnet.org/search/search%20results.php3?SEARCH=499(Near East Council of Churches for Refugee Work (NECC)
- Jordan Doctors Guide http://www.jordandrs.com/jordrs/indexorg.php3?action=printall
- Jordan River http://www.jordanriver.jo
- The Welfare Association Consortium http://www.pngo-project.org/about/welfare.html
- World YWCA http://www.worldywca.org/nat_programs/mideast.htm#jordan
Palestinians who have been living on the East Bank of Jordan since
1948 are all Jordanian citizens. After the 1988 severance of administrative and
legal ties between the East Bank and the West Bank, the legal status of
Palestinians living in the West Bank changed. They were given temporary
passports renewable every two years instead of regular passports that granted
them full citizenship rights in Jordan. (The renewal period time period was
extended to five years in 1995 by royal decree.) This placed the West Bankers
on a par with the ex-Gaza refugees, who had been granted temporary passports
since 1968. There are estimated to be 150,000 Gazans in Jordan
As demonstrated in the categories table
(see Categories), the
government issued a series of coloured cards to distinguish between various
categories of Palestinians in Jordan. Those who hold Yellow Cards are holders
of permanent Jordanian passports and of a national ID number, but they also
have family reunification permits provided by the Israeli occupation
authorities. Green Cards were distributed to West Bankers allowing them to
visit Jordan and return to the West Bank, while Blue Cards were given to
Palestinians from Gaza, also allowing them to visit. Pink Cards allow people
from Gaza temporary stay in the East Bank. Many people who have Green Cards
have ambiguous status because after administrative disengagement from the West
Bank and the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority they were
granted Palestinian passports, which do not connote a nationality, since the
- U.S Department of State http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/2000
Right to education
Palestinian refugees with full Jordanian citizenship officially
have access to all public services. Those living in the refugee camps, however,
Displaced Palestinians and Gazans also have access to both public
Right to employment
Jordanian citizens, including those of Palestinian origin living in Jordan, have access to jobs in the public and private sectors. It is important to note here that political tensions between the Jordanian state and the Palestinians were exacerbated by what is known as the "Jordanization" policy implemented in the 1970s. This policy favoured Transjordanian recruitment in the public sector, forcing Palestinians to see employment and livelihood in the private sector, including banking and commerce. The holders of temporary passports are required to apply for a work permit to work in the private sector.
Palestinians in Jordan have the right to own property. Only holders of temporary passports do not have this right. They are requested to have a local Jordanian partner in any property they own and to request the approval of a ministerial council.
Although Palestinians in Jordan enjoy citizenship rights, they have faced discrimination generally and especially in employment and education, in particular those who are socially and economically disadvantaged. The fact that Palestinians carry Jordanian passports has not diluted their sense of belonging to Palestine, although this does vary as a result of many factors, not least socio-economic status. The national differences between Jordanians and Palestinians, however, fluctuate according to larger political processes and dynamics. At the heart of political turmoil in the region and particularly in Jordan, the country with the largest number of registered refugees, is the Right of Return. Since their expulsion in 1948 Israel has denied Palestinians the right to return to their homes and lands, which means that while they may want to improve their social and economic lives, they often do not want to be viewed as having acquiesced to schemes that aim at their integration.
The conditions of the various categories of refugees vary; in particular, those originating in the West Bank and Gaza have different rights and privileges. The ex-Gaza refugees do not have citizenship rights and their economic and social conditions are difficult. Due to their legal status, ex-Gaza refugees also encounter problems travelling out of or into Jordan. The status of those living in the West Bank changed following the 1988 disengagement directives, making their legal position uncertain, complicated by the Israeli occupation. However, in 1996, the Palestinian National Authority issued travel documents for West Bankers and Gazans.
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