We will have to go over this one more time. Palestinians we are told, suffer under a cruel apartheid system. This is true, but it’s not what you think it is. I am going to show you how it functions. If you legally live in the Netherlands for at least five years, you can apply for citizenship. You can find out how it works here. Almost every Western country has some similar procedure. Palestinians unfortunately, have no such right. They are the Arab world’s untouchables.
Consider the plight of the Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria. There are half a million “Palestinians” living in Syria. They do not receive Syrian citizenship, can not vote or stand for parliament and are not allowed to own arable land. The reason I say “Palestinians”, is because these “Palestinians” were born in Syria. Often their parents were even born in Syria. But because they are descended from people who left the British mandate Palestine, they are never accepted as Syrian citizens.
In most of the Arab world the same principle applies. There are about half a million “Palestinians” in Lebanon, who are legally barred from most well-paying jobs, have no political representation and can’t own property. They are even prohibited from using the health care system. In Kuwait hundreds of thousands of Palestinians live too, but 200,000 were kicked out in 1991 when Kuwait held them responsible for siding with Iraq.
In Saudi Arabia live a quarter of a million Palestinians. A law was passed in 2004, which allows any expat living in the kingdom for more than ten years to apply for citizenship. There is one exception however: Palestinians need not apply!
There is one exception in the Arab world: Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel, gave Palestinians citizenship. But the rest of the Arab world chooses to treat Palestinians as cannon fodder against the Israeli state. The number of “Palestinian” refugees registered by the UNRWA grew from 750,000 in 1950, to five million in 2013. Most of these five million refugees however, did not flee themselves, their parents or grandparents fled conflict in Palestine.
Note that there is no single other group of refugees who are treated in this manner by the UN. All other refugees are not treated under the UNRWA, but under the UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In contrast to the UNRWA, the UNHCR has as its explicit goal, to eliminate the refugee status of refugees, by integrating them into their current country, resettle them in a third country, or repatriate them when possible. Descendants of the original Palestinian refugees are the world’s only “refugees”, who are condemned to spending their whole lives as second class citizens, in countries that treat them as unwelcome guests.
You can contrast this, to what happened to Jews in the Middle East, known as the Mizrahi Jews. As the Israeli state became a reality, Jews throughout the Middle East began to face violence and persecution. Since 1948, around 900,000 Jews had to leave the Middle East and other Islamic countries, where they faced violent persecution. Often they fled after pogroms in which dozens of Jews were killed. Typically they had to leave all their property behind. Some Arab states actively encouraged the Jews to leave, because their property would simply become government property.
Most of these Mizrahi Jews ended up living in Israel. In Israel they were not treated as people whose identity would be threatened by giving them Israeli citizenship. No, they simply became full Israeli citizens and lost their refugee status. If Israel had treated the Mizrahi the way most of the Arab world treats the Palestinians, the children of the Mizrahi would today be living in refugee camps in Israel and unable to vote, hold a job or own real estate.
Fortunately, Israel does not practice such apartheid. Just as the Mizrahi Jews have full equality before the law, so do the two million Arab citizens in Israel today, the descendants of those Palestinians who did not flee what would become Israel. It’s the Arab world that practices apartheid against Palestinians.
Today, Israel is home to 3.2 million descendants of the Mizrahi Jews who had to flee to Israel. Except for Jordan, there is no Arab nation that has absorbed such a huge refugee population from the conflict in Palestine. This is why it is unreasonable to expect the Israeli state to absorb the millions of descendants of Palestinians who claim a right to return.
For what it’s worth, the Palestinian authorities are not eager to absorb these Palestinian refugees either. The Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon announced in 2011 that in the event of the creation of a Palestinian state, even the refugees living in refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank would not receive Palestinian citizenship! In other words, even the Palestinian authorities apparently seek to keep treating the Palestinian refugees living in their own territory as second class citizens who have to figure out how to reconquer the lands that now became Israel.
Arab Apartheid results in Palestinians living out their entire lives as second class citizens, political cannon fodder to be used against the Israeli state. And the whole world consents to this. Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza who wish to flee the genocidal Hamas regime, that aims to use them as human shields and raises children to believe their only purpose is to seek martyrdom, are stopped at the Egyptian border.
If you have dual citizenship, you are allowed to leave the Gaza strip and enter Egypt. If you don’t have dual citizenship, then you are stuck as the Arab world’s cannon fodder against Israel. But none of the usual suspects, who insist that “no human is illegal”, seem to care about this.
People who flee authoritarian regimes are regularly welcomed as refugees into Europe. If you are forced to live under the authoritarian Hamas regime, Egypt will not allow you to flee. And why would they? The world will condemn Israel for responding to a massacre of its citizens. It will ignore Egypt keeping people stuck in a war zone the size of Malta that’s governed by a genocidal regime.
In 1970, Gaza strip was home to 340,000 people. Since then the Palestinian authorities have consistently refused any sort of birth control policy, resulting in a fertility rate of 8.3 children per woman in 1991. By now there are 2.4 million people living there, but the population still grows by 2% a year.
In other words, there is now no sustainable solution. You can’t have a Palestinian country as densely populated as Singapore, trapped between two other countries that refuse people entry. Israel giving citizenship to 2.4 million Palestinians who elected Hamas and annexing the territory will not happen either.
If the world had some mercy on the Palestinians in Gaza, they would help Egypt to resettle them in the Sinai, where many of them had ancestors living before they migrated to Palestine. But that’s unlikely to happen. They are trapped, in a hell of their own creation. And the reason for that is because the world does not hold the Arab world to the same standard as it does Western countries.