According to a report released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch, Jordan recently turned away Syrians of Palestinian heritage seeking refuge in the Hashemite Kingdom, while threatening to deport Syrian Palestinians who arrived within the past year. Meanwhile, Jordan has laudably admitted 140,000 Syrian refugees into its country and given fleeing Syrians the right to move freely throughout the kingdom.
Amman has a historically tense relationship with its Palestinian population. Palestinians are said to comprise a majority of the Jordanian population, but are ruled by the minority Hashemite tribe in Amman, which has forced some of its Palestinian population into low-caliber refugee camps, refusing to integrate them into greater society and revoking their Jordanian citizenship in order to perpetuate the “Palestinian question.”
Palestinian refugees in Syria mourn dead. Palestinians fleeing Syria for Jordan are currently facing much discrimination. (Photo: Reuters)
However, before Wednesday’s report, it seemed that Jordan has recently been making amends with Palestinians. For one, Jordan promised to stop revoking citizenship for Jordanian Palestinians. Amman also recently discussed energy cooperation, specifically linking its electric grid with that of the territories. King Abdullah met with a Hamas delegation last week, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas headed to Jordan Wednesday evening for diplomatic talks. In addition, at an Arab League summit in Cairo on Sunday, Jordan reiterated its support for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Jordan in recent times has also sent delegations to visit the al-Aqsa mosque.
Jordan’s refusal to accept Palestinian refugees could be perceived as a racist decision. However, King Abdullah does face a demographic problem — he already fears his Palestinian majority could be inspired by recent Arab revolutions and attempt to overthrow him. Nevertheless, his decision to turn away Syrians of Palestinian descent while accepting others fleeing war-torn Syria is unacceptable. As Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh has said, this horrific treatment of Palestinians by their fellow Arabs is nothing short of “Arab apartheid.”