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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Why Jews cannot (easily) become citizens of Jordan

I received an email today from someone asking me about any restrictions I was aware of against Jews having Jordanian citizenship or owning Jordanian land. I responded
My understanding is that Jordan specifically excluded Jews from its citizenship even if they adhered to all the other requirements when they allowed Palestinian Arabs to become citizens in 1950. See page 73 of this.

As far as land ownership is concerned, I don't know of any specific law banning sales to Jews, but it appears that the rules for transferring land in Jordan are sufficiently restrictive against non-Jordanians that effectively no Jew could possibly buy land legally.
He responded back with a source that shed more detail on the land question in Jordan:
Under the direct instructions of King Husayn23, the government of Jordan in 1973 passed the "Law for Preventing the Sale of Immovable Property to the Enemy."24The "enemy" is defined in Article 2 as "any man or judicial body [corporation] of Israeli citizenship living in Israel or acting on its behalf." Under Article 4 of this law any Jordanian citizen who sold land in Jordan or the West Bank to the "enemy" faced the death penalty and forfeiture of all his property to the state:

The sale of Immovable property against the provisions of this law constitutes a crime against state security and well being, punishable by death, and the confiscation of all the culprit's Immovable and moveable possessions.

In addition, Article 3 deemed the sale of land to any alien (i.e., a non-Arab) without permission from the Council of Ministers a security offense punishable by death.

According to PA Attorney General Khalid al-Qidra, Jordan had sentenced 172 people to death under this law.25 Amnesty International reported that as of 1988 many of the convictions were in absentia and that there had been no executions.26 However, PA Justice Minister Meddein claimed that Jordan had executed 10 violators.27

Whatever its application, the Jordanian Parliament repealed the 1973 law in 1995, following the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. Milder statutes adopted in its place still effectively bar Israelis from purchasing or leasing land in Jordan. The Law on Economic Boycott and Banning Dealing with the Enemy (Article 6) states that "it is impermissible for foreign persons or corporate entities that do not hold an Arab nationality to purchase, lease, or own directly or indirectly any immovable property in the kingdom."28 The only exceptions require high level political authorization.
So while I do not believe that Jordan has or had specific laws banning Jewish ownership of land the laws in place effectively make it impossible for Jews to become landowners in Jordan.

Further research shows that the Jordanian citizenship law does indeed still specifically exclude Jews.

In 1933, a number of prominent Arabs in Transjordan asked Great Britain to allow Jews to settle there, to help its ailing economy, and Zionists were enthusiastic about the idea. But since the British saw the riots that were happening in Palestine at the time they didn't want to worry about more problems of that type, so they created a law banning Jews from living there.
This policy was ratified — after the emirate became a kingdom — by Jordan's law no. 6, sect. 3, on April 3, 1954, and reactivated in law no. 7, sect. 2, on April 1, 1963. It states that any person may become a citizen of Jordan unless he is a Jew. King Hussein made peace with Israel in 1994, but the Judenrein legislation remains valid today.
So, yes, Jordan really has a law banning Jews - not Zionists, but Jews - from becoming citizens. And the original source of this law was none other than Great Britain.

UPDATE: Here's the law: (h/t british18)
The following shall be deemed to be Jordanian nationals:

(1)Any person who has acquired Jordanian nationality or a Jordanian passport under the Jordanian Nationality Law, 1928, as amended, Law No. 6 of 1954 or this Law;

(2)Any person who, not being Jewish, possessed Palestinian nationality before 15 May 1948 and was a regular resident in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan between 20 December 1949 and 16 February 1954;

(3)Any person whose father holds Jordanian nationality;

(4)Any person born in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan of a mother holding Jordanian nationality and of a father of unknown nationality or of a Stateless father or whose filiation is not established;

(5)Any person born in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan of unknown parents, as a foundling in the Kingdom shall be considered born in the Kingdom pending evidence to the contrary;

(6)All members of the Bedouin tribes of the North mentioned in paragraph (j) of article 25 of the Provisional Election Law, No. 24 of 1960, who were effectively living in the territories annexed to the Kingdom in 1930.

But what if a Jew wants to become a naturalized citizen? Well...
Any Arab who has resided continuously in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for not less than 15 years may acquire Jordanian nationality, by decision of the Council of Ministers taken on a proposal by the Minister of Internal Affairs, if he renounces his nationality of origin and the law of his country permits him to do so...


UPDATE 2: Hasbara Buster pointed out a later article I had overlooked, that seems to show that anyone can become a Jordanian citizen if they pass muster from the Council of Ministers:
Article 12
Any person other than a Jordanian who is not incapable by law may apply to the Council of Ministers for grant of a certificate of Jordanian naturalization if:
(1)He has been regularly resident in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for a period of four years preceding the date of his application;
(2)He intends to reside in the Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan.
Maybe a Jew-turned-Muslim like Uri Davis could become a citizen under those circumstances, so I cannot say that Jordanian law completely excludes the possibility of Jews becoming citizens. In reality, it would appear to be very unlikely.

Any way you look at it, non-Arabs are discriminated against by Jordanian naturalization law.