Jordanian citizenship for Palestinian leaders stirs controversy, angers opposition

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Government sources acknowledged that King Abdullah has approved requests by at least a dozen Fatah and PA leaders for Jordanian citizenship. They said the Palestinians sought to ensure that they and their families could enter and leave Jordan at any time.

"The king felt this was a friendly gesture to the Palestinian leadership," a government source said. "It does not have policy implications."

The London-based Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper reported that Fatah dissident Mohammed Dahlan also acquired Jordanian citizenship.

The newspaper identified other Palestinians who gained Jordanian citizenship as former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh. "This is shameful for them because they and their families should be proud of their Palestinian citizenship,"

Al Quds Al Arabi said in an editorial. "If they don’t believe in their own citizenship and are not proud of it, this means that they are not loyal to the Palestinian Authority and don’t deserve to speak on its behalf."

Abdullah's approval has angered the opposition in the Hashemite kingdom. Deputy parliamentary speaker Atef Tarawneh said the issuing of citizenship to the West Bank leadership belies a decision by the kingdom to revoke the citizenship of thousands of ordinary Palestinians who have been living abroad.

"This is harmful," Tarawneh said. The Jordanian deputy speaker, who said he spoke to the king, cited some of those Palestinians granted citizenship. He said they included PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons, both of them leading businessmen in the West Bank.

In a related development, an opposition statement has accused Jordan's Queen Rania of facilitating citizenship for her family and 78,000 Palestinians between 2005 and 2010.

A statement by 36 Bedouin tribal leaders said the Hashemite kingdom was in danger unless the royal family halted corruption. "The queen is building centers to boost her power and serve her interests, against the will of Jordanians and Hashemites," the tribal leaders said.