By KHALED ABU TOAMEH \02/09/2011
Senior Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials, including President Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons, have been given Jordanian citizenship, a top Jordanian politician disclosed on Tuesday.
The Palestinian leaders were given Jordanian citizenship despite the fact that the authorities in Amman have been revoking the Jordanian citizenship of thousands of Palestinians.
Atef Tarawneh, deputy speaker of the Jordanian parliament, denounced the decision to revoke the citizenship of thousands of Jordanians of Palestinian origin.
Tarawneh said that the decision was “harmful” to national unity and the constitution in Jordan.
He added that he recently met with King Abdullah II and warned him against the repercussions of revoking the citizenships. He said that the decision has harmed investment in the kingdom because dozens of Jordanian-Palestinian businessmen living abroad were afraid to return home out of fear that the authorities would confiscate their passports.
According to the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, a significant number of PA leaders are registered as full Jordanian citizens.
The paper pointed out that the leaders applied for Jordanian citizenship at a time when they were urging the Jordanian authorities to stop giving Palestinians Jordanian citizenship, in order to “consolidate their Palestinian identity.” The Jordanian government had justified its decision to strip Palestinians of their citizenship by using the same argument.
However, the Jordanians have long seen the Palestinian majority in the kingdom as a demographic threat.
The decision to rescind the citizenship of tens of thousands of Palestinians is seen in the context of this fear.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi quoted sources in Amman as saying that Abbas and his entire family carry Jordanian passports.
Other PA leaders who carry Jordanian passports include former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei, Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh and Fatah’s Muhammad Dahlan.
The paper did not say when the Palestinian officials were given Jordanian citizenship. PA spokesmen in Ramallah refused to comment on the report.
A Fatah official, however, said that he was not surprised to hear that Palestinian leaders were carrying Jordanian passports. He said he believed most of the PA leaders had applied for and received Jordanian passports in the past 15 years.
In an editorial, Al-Quds Al- Arabi criticized the Palestinian leaders who applied for Jordanian citizenship.
“This is shameful for them because they and their families should be proud of their Palestinian citizenship,” the paper wrote. “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.”
The paper noted that it was the PA leaders who had asked for Jordanian citizenship, and not the Jordanians who had offered it.
“They were the ones who applied for it, and perhaps they had embarrassed senior Jordanian government officials with the requests,” it wrote.
The Jordanians were unable to reject the applications “out of courtesy and generosity,” the paper said.