Thursday, January 28, 2016

  • Thursday, January 28, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon
Palestine News Network writes:
According to the Institute of Palestine studies, [Palestinian Syrians fleeing to Europe] often remain without legal status at first. Those who have family members in Europe may have an easier time attaining residency, but even many of those with family networks must find a way through the bureaucratic hell that characterizes both the asylum and family reunification procedures.

Greece and other European countries have created a special refugee status whereby Syrians may apply for and receive political asylum on the same day, but, for Palestinians, the process can be much more difficult because they do not have Syrian nationality. According to Professor Susan Akram, director of Boston University Law’s International Human Rights Clinic, there is considerable confusion and conflicting interpretations within and among European states about the status of Palestinian refugees in Europe under the 1951 convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Most European countries either do not recognize or incorporate Article 1D of the 1951 Refugee Convention into domestic law or interpret the article incorrectly, which cites:

“This Convention shall not apply to persons who are at present receiving from organs or agencies of the United Nations other than the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees protection or assistance.” [meaning UNRWA - EoZ]

So while Palestine receives support and protection from organs such as the UN, displaced Palestinians may not receive this support:

“This excludes from the benefits of the 1951 Convention those Palestinians who are refugees as a result of the 1948 or 1967 Arab/Israeli conflicts, and who are receiving protection or assistance from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)”. “While paragraph 1 of Article 1D is in effect an exclusion clause, this does not mean that certain groups of Palestinian refugees can never benefit from the protection of the 1951 Convention”
The conclusion of the Convention is rather unclear:

“The position of Palestinian refugees under international refugee law is complex and continues to evolve. This Note clarifies some pertinent aspects of the position of such refugees and is intended to serve as guidance for use in refugee status determination.”
According to Badil, practically, this means that Palestinian refugees in Europe are placed outside of the international protection system for refugees worldwide. Palestinian refugees often face difficulties when they apply for asylum, residence based on family reunification, employment etc.
To me, the UNHCR convention and its note of clarification for Palestinians are  pretty clear - if UNRWA cannot help them (for example, in Europe) then UNHCR can. But the interesting part is whether European countries accept that interpretation for their own asylum laws. And if we are to believe this article, they are not doing that.

This means that the exclusion cause for Palestinians not to fall under the remit of UNHRC - which was meant to keep them in refugee status forever - is now causing them even more grief as they attempt to rebuild their shattered lives.

The PNN article of course blames Israel, but it is obvious that 67 years of Arab national discrimination against their Palestinian residents has resulted in them being treated badly today even by non-Arabs. This is a direct result of what the Arab League codified in Resolution 1547 of March 1959: that Arab nations do not give citizenship to Palestinians "to avoid dissolution of their identity and protect their right to return to their homeland."

Syrian refugees of Palestinian origin are being discriminated against in Europe because of a combination of the entrenched UNRWA regime that create an exception to UNHRC rules on refugees plus Arab nations' explicit decision to keep them stateless.


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