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World - Middle East

King calls for end to discrimination against Jordan's Palestinians

elderly woman
This woman is angry because she says living in the al- Wahda Palestinian refugee camp is like living in a hole

CNN's Jerrold Kessel reports that Jordan's King Abdullah wants to end discrimination against Palestinians. (June 30)
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June 30, 1999
Web posted at: 9:13 p.m. EDT (0113 GMT)

In this story:

Palestinians the majority of the population


From Correspondent Jerrold Kessel

AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- Jordan's King Abdullah visited an Israeli controlled crossing point between his country and the West Bank to deliver a long-awaited message to Palestinians under his rule.

Abdullah called on fellow Jordanians to work toward ending class divisions that have marginalized Palestinian citizens of the Hashemite Kingdom. Discrimination must end, he vowed.

Palestinians the majority of the population

men in headdresses
The two kefiya headdresses; the indigenous red and white of the East Bankers and the white and black of the Palestinians, intermingle freely  

Palestinians -- many of whom arrived in Jordan following the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967 -- make up more than 60 percent of the population of Jordan but have long been considered second-class citizens.

The two kefiya headdresses -- the red of the native Jordanians, or East Bankers, and the white of the Palestinians -- have intermingled freely for years in Jordan.

But the establishment has kept a firm hand on control of Jordan's public sector.

"Short of the private sector it (discrimination) is there in every sector of life. In all government departments, in all public offices ... the old school of avoiding Jordanians of Palestinian origin," said Labib Qamhawi, a Jordanian political analyst.

Abdullah visits a crossing point (still controlled by Israel) between his kingdom and the West Bank  

King Abdullah's comments have forced Jordan's legislature -- a symbol of the East Bank establishment -- to acknowledge discrimination against Palestinians.

"It's not policy in this country, but it is something we have to address," said Parliament Speaker Abdul Hadi al Majali.

The fact that Abdullah's wife, Queen Rania, is of Palestinian background, may have influenced his initiative.

But analysts says his readiness to approach the issue of actual equality for Palestinians is much more complex.

"The king knows this is bound to happen .... (but) he cannot venture into that with such a legacy of discrimination against Jordanians of Palestinian origin," Qamhawi said.

Jordan: More Israeli strikes could derail peace process
June 27, 1999
King Abdullah II formally enthroned as Jordan's ruler
June 9, 1999
Jordan's new king discusses death, duty and destiny
May 3, 1999
Egypt, Jordan back Palestinian statehood
March 20, 1999

Jordan Times
Jordan National Information System
Palestinian National Authority
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