Tuesday, November 30, 2010

PalArabs trying - and failing - to become citizens of Arab countries

Nablus TV and Firas Press report on how Palestinian Arabs are desperately trying to become citizens of Arab countries.

Gazans are trying to prove that they have Egyptian roots to become Egyptian citizens, but Egypt forces them to go through a very difficult legal process that forces most to give up in frustration amid steep legal fees. Even people who have one Egyptian parent are being confronted with roadblocks when they try to exercise their rights as citizens.

The major incentive to gain Arab citizenship is for freedom of movement. Palestinian passports are of very limited use, and many countries will not recognize them as valid travel documents.

Other benefits of citizenship include ease of setting up a business in the host country, and going to college. Some Palestinian Arabs also complain about discrimination they suffer in the Arab world simply because they are Palestinian. One person interviewed said that his brothers work in the UAE, and Egyptian citizens receive higher salaries than Palestinian passport holders doing the same jobs.

One expert is quoted as saying that this is not a new phenomenon, and Palestinian Arabs have been seeking to become naturalized citizens of Arab countries since 1948. He says explicitly the entire reason that Palestinian Arabs are treated with such contempt by Egyptians: "The Egyptian government believes that the failure to give the Palestinians Egyptian nationality will push them to hold on to their land."

This is, of course, a human rights issue. Palestinian Arabs are being discriminated against in every Arab country compared to other Arabs. The Convention of the Rights of the Child states that every child has the right to a nationality.

But good luck finding any human rights groups willing to take on this issue.