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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tensions mounting between Jordan's Hashemites, Palestinian majority

AMMAN — Jordan has launched a crackdown on Palestinians associated with the Fatah movement.   

Officials said the Hashemite kingdom's crackdown included revoking the citizenship of thousands of Palestinian residents of Jordan linked to the ruling Fatah movement.

Jordan's Interior Minister Nayef Al Kadi said the revocation of citizenship was launched upon request of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Middle East Newsline reported.

But Palestinian sources said the new policy reflected a decision by Jordan's King Abdullah to quell rising demands of the Palestinian majority, said to comprise 70 percent of the population. Many of the Palestinians were said to be identified with the Hamas movement.

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Tension between Palestinians and indigenous Jordanians, known as Hashemites, have been reported at soccer matches. On July 18, anti-riot police prevented an attack by thousands of Hashemite fans of a visiting Palestinian soccer team in Zarqa. The Hashemite fans were said to have chanted curses against the PLO and Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque.

Palestinian sources in Jordan said the crackdown began in wake of the formation of an Israeli government led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in March 2009. The sources said the kingdom became fearful of the prospect of Palestinian unrest amid a stalemate between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

"The feeling among many Palestinians is that the king [Abdullah] is working with Netanyahu against us, even though the government here says the opposite," a Palestinian union activist said.

"Our goal is to prevent Israel from emptying the Palestinian territories of their original inhabitants," Al Kadi said.

The sources said PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has urged Jordan to rescind the decision. But they said the king refused.

For his part, Al Kadi said Palestinians whose citizenship was revoked would not be expelled from Jordan. The minister said those Palestinians affected by the decree were PA and PLO employees, whose Jordanian passports were annulled.

"We're not expelling anyone, nor are we revoking the citizenship of Jordanian nationals," Al Kadi said. "We are only correcting the mistake that was created after Jordan's disengagement from the West Bank [in 1988]. We want to highlight the true identity and nationality of every person."

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