World Tribune.com

Saudis deny citizenship
to resident Palestinians

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Tuesday, October 26, 2004

ABU DHABI Saudi Arabia has refused to consider resident Palestinians for citizenship.

Saudi officials said a new citizenship law would not apply to Palestinians. An estimated 500,000 Palestinians have residency permits in the kingdom.

"We don't want the national identity of these Palestinians to be destroyed," a Saudi official explained. "We are working for a solution to return them to Palestine."

[In an unrelated development, Egypt has identified a Palestinian as the mastermind of the Sinai bombings on Oct. 7, in which 34 people were killed, Middle East Newsline reported. The Egyptian Interior Ministry said authorities have arrested eight participants in the attacks, attributed to an Al Qaida-aligned group. The Palestinian was said to have been killed in the car bombing in the Hilton Hotel in the Sinai resort of Taba.]

The Palestinian Authority envoy to Saudi Arabia, Mustafa Deeb said Saudi policy has been in line with that of the Arab League not to permanently settle Palestinians outside of their homeland.

On Oct. 18, Saudi Arabia announced a naturalization law meant to liberalize terms for longtime residents in the kingdom. Officials said more than 1 million people could benefit from the law, which granted a preference for foreigners with such professions as technicians, physicians and computer programmers.

Saudi Arabia has not formally banned Palestinians from the new law, scheduled to go into effect in February 2005. Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Nasser Al Hanaya said Palestinians would be treated as other applicants.

But Saudi officials said the inclusion of Palestinians would change the demographic balance in the kingdom. They said most of the 500,000 Palestinians in Saudi Arabia were expected to apply for citizenship.


Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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