Victory for a Stateless Palestinian

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
16 December 2021

We have been instructed by an individual in the extremely complex issue of the Palestinian Nationality status in the Middle East and the Arab World.  The applicant wished to be considered as a stateless person in the UK and we had to demonstrate that no state was prepared to consider him as a national under its own nationality laws.

Our client was born in Gaza which was, at the time of his birth, under Egyptian control.  Thereafter, the Gaza Strip was occupied by the Israeli Defence Forces during the Six Day War, and the Egyptian administrative structure in Gaza was expelled.  The Gaza Strip remained under Israeli control until August 2005, when the administrative responsibility was handed over to the Palestinian National Authority, and the Strip itself was administratively isolated from Israel. Although our client grew up in Gaza under the Egyptian administration of the Strip, he would have been stateless as the Egyptian authorities did not accord its inhabitants nationality status.  In 1967, when the Six Day War occurred, he was in Egypt, and with the conclusion of the conflict, his parents remained in Egypt.  He therefore could not have been included in the Israeli census of the Gaza Strip population carried out by Israel in September 1967; and therefore, he has remained stateless ever since.

Our client’s family relocated from Egypt to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and he made use, with his parents, of the Egyptian travel documents for Palestinians.  His wife, who was born in Gaza in 1970 and lived there until she travelled to Abu Dhabi for her marriage, was registered with the Israeli Central Population Registry, and therefore would have been issued with an Israeli identity card and able to obtain a Palestinian passport as a result.

After his marriage, his wife tried to make use of the family Reunification Regulations to arrange for her husband to obtain permanent residence status in the Gaza Strip, so that he could obtain a Palestinian passport and obtain an Israeli ID card.  In 2019, he learnt that the application had been discontinued and could not be reinstated.

The result was that out of the whole family, only he was stateless.  Since his residence in Abu Dhabi could not continue, he and his family had to leave the Emirates.

The challenges in this case

The citizenship and status of Palestinians today is extremely complicated and we had to rely on a country expert to make our submissions to the Home Office in support of the stateless application.  Many Palestinians obtain naturalisation and citizenship in countries in which they settled outside the Middle East and North Africa.  However, this is not the case of Palestinians in the Arab world, as the Arab states did not want to undermine the Palestinian refugee status for political reasons.  They therefore do not normally give them citizenship as, in principle, it would negate the possibility of return.  The status of those living in Arab states (sometimes under the control of UNWRA) is regulated to the extent that Palestinians were given the same rights to work as nationals of particular Arab states; the right to live and return to these states, and a right to national travel documents, but no more.

Our client will be granted five years leave to remain.  He will then be able to apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain).  After six years, subject to meeting the requirements for naturalisation, he will become a British national.