Statelessness among Palestinians Abbas Shiblak

Statelessness among
Abbas Shiblak
(University of Oxford)
• Introduction & Definitions
• Palestinian nationality; historical background and causes of
• The status of Palestinians in host Arab states; Casablanca
Protocol and beyond
• Categories of statelessness
• Citizenship as a political instrument in the Palestinian context
• In search for passport: naturalisation in host countries
• Impact of statelessness; entitlement to rights, wellbeing,
mobility & the undocumented
• The issue of protection
• Durable solution and Palestinian citizenship
• Conclusion
Is a bond between the individual and the
state that ensures that an individual is able
to take on an identity under the law.
While it imposes certain obligations,
citizenship entitles the individual to
protection by the state and provides a
legal basis for the exercise of many civil
and political rights.
Universal Declaration of Human
“everyone has the right to a
nationality” and that “no-one shall
be arbitrarily deprived of his
Article 15
Principles for granting
• jus soli (an individual’s place of birth or
relationship to territory),
• jus sanguinis (and individual’s
parentage, descent or blood
relationship), or
• the relationship established with a state
through long-term residence in its
1954 Convention relating to the
Status of Stateless Persons
Stateless person is a “person who is
not considered as a national by any
state under the operation of its law”.
Article 1
Palestinian nationality; historical
Ottoman subjects; Palestinians in the late 19th
century, like all inhabitants of the Empire...
British Protected subjects under the British mandate
after WWI – 1948
Equal citizenship in the two states – Jewish and Arab
– proposed in 1947 by the UN Res:181, 2 states
Denial of statehood: Israel –Jordan correlationPalestinian nationality ceased
Israel: indigenous Palestinians are residents not
PA passport/ travel document until the establishment of
full fledged Palestinian state
Casablanca Protocol of
September 1965
• To grant Palestinian refugees full social
and economic rights equal to that of
their own citizens.
• To provide the refugees with special
travel document issued by the host
Arab government without granting
them their nationality.
Holders of the ‘Refugee Travel Document’ (RTD) issued by host
Arab states that include Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq.
Holders of passport of convenience, mainly temporary Jordanian
passports mainly some inhabitants of the West Bank.
Holders of the Palestinian passport/travel document issued by the
PNA which is still considered a travel document until a fully fledged
Palestinian state comes to existence,
Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem who still carry Jordanian
passport for convenience or an Israeli laissez passer but not prove
of citizenship by the Jordanian authorities
Thousands of undocumented refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq,
Kuwait and other Gulf States whose documents were not renewed
by the host countries that issued them. Also Palestinians who
exceed time allowed on their visit visas and live without valid
documents in PNA controlled areas.
The royal decree on 31July 1988
• Surrendering his claim to the West Bank
and severing legal and administrative ties
with it.
• The nullification of the 1950 unity of the
two sides of the river Jordan.
• Stipulates: “Every person residing in the
West Bank before 31st July 1988 is to be
considered a Palestinian, not a Jordanian
citizen.”, Article 2
Citizenship is the right to have
Is nothing less than what Marshall and
others described:
‘the right to have rights… Remove this
priceless possession and there
remains a stateless person, disgraced
and degraded in the eyes of his
The Poet Mahmoud Darwish
"These forgotten ones, disconnected
from the social fabric, these
outcasts, deprived of work and equal
rights, are at the same time
expected to applaud their oppression
because it provides them with the
blessings of memory."
Palestinian asylum seeker in UK
‘Being uprooted from one’s own homeland
is a devastating experience. To live
stateless, deprived of basic rights in the
country of refuge means that you are
doomed. By being uprooted, you may
have lost the past; by losing your basic
rights, you are losing the future as well’.
• The majority of the Palestinians are stateless.
• The statelessness aspect of Palestinian refugees more than any
thing has shaped the experience of the exiled Palestinians
• A peace agreement should widen the options for the refugees and
address all aspects of the refugee issue including the right for
citizenship and equal rights for Palestinians in countries they live in.
• A full fledged and viable Palestinian state would be catalyst to
resolution of the refugee issue but there should be no illusions that a
Palestinian state would be enough in itself to resolve all aspects of
the refugee issue.
• The regional aspect of the refugee issue therefore should not be
overlooked. All regional and international actors should be involved
in a comprehensive peace agreement..
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