This article explores the British Mandate's legal framework for regulating citizenship and nationality in Palestine following the post–World War I fragmentation of the Ottoman Empire. It argues that the 1925 Palestinian Citizenship Order-in-Council prioritized the settlement and naturalization of Jews in Palestine, while simultaneously disenfranchising Palestinians who had migrated abroad. Ultimately, the citizenship legislation reflected British imperial interests as it fulfilled the promises made in the Balfour Declaration to establish in Palestine a homeland for the Jewish people, while it attempted to ensure the economic viability of a modern Palestine as a British mandated territory. Excluded from Palestinian citizenship by the arbitrary application of the Order-in-Council, the majority of Palestinian migrants during the 1920s and 30s never secured a legal means to return to Palestine, thus marking the beginning of the Palestinian diaspora.
Legislating Exclusion: Palestinian Migrants and Interwar Citizenship
Nadim Bawalsa is a joint PhD candidate in history and Middle Eastern & Islamic studies at New York University. He is also a full-time Arabic and history teacher at Friends Seminary in New York. His work explores the history of Palestinians throughout the twentieth century as they navigated an increasingly complex and interconnected world.
Nadim Bawalsa; Legislating Exclusion: Palestinian Migrants and Interwar Citizenship. Journal of Palestine Studies 1 February 2017; 46 (2): 44–59. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jps.2017.46.2.44
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