Fateh Azzam: Palestine Should Give Its Refugees Citizenship

Posted: May 13, 2015 by Rex Brynen in legal status
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At the al-Shabaka policy network website, Fateh Azzam (Director of the newly established Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at the American University in Beirut) has a “bold proposal”: that Palestine should give all Palestinian refugees Palestinian citizenship:

Now that Palestine is recognized as a state, the next bold step for Palestine is to confer citizenship on its stateless refugees and enter into bilateral agreements with other states regarding the status of Palestinian citizens in each country. In making the case for such a move, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Fateh Azzam is well aware of the treacherous political waters that this proposal entails. However, he argues that it is worth considering from all its aspects, including the potential problems, as it could be a long over-due move to strengthen the legal status of Palestinian refugees – in particular the stateless refugees – and to improve their situation in their countries of current residence. It would also create facts on the ground, which may become the building blocks for national liberation.

His excellent analysis is sensitive to the difficulties such an initiative would encounter: Arab opposition to dual citizenship (and the possible erosion of their legal rights in Jordan); the risks it might pose the Palestinian claims of a right of return; possible retaliatory measures by Israel or the US; the practical difficulties of implementation. However, he argues, the benefits would be much greater, reinforcing the legal linkage between Palestine and refugees in the diaspora, and possibly improving the treatment of Palestinians in some countries. The right of return, he argues, is an individual right, and cannot and would not be diminished by acts of the state of Palestine.

All-in-all, a very important piece that is well worth reading.

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