Why statelessness cannot be ignored in the violence in Gaza and Israel


Joint Statement by the MENA Statelessness Network (Hawiati), European Network on Statelessness, and Statefree. We issue this statement as three civil society actors working with people affected by statelessness in the region and in Europe.

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First and foremost, we want to express our solidarity with everyone impacted, particularly those with family or friends directly affected by the appalling developments on the ground. We have been deeply saddened by the recent and ongoing violence in Gaza and Israel. We reiterate calls for an immediate ceasefire, lifting of the blockade of Gaza, and for all actors to respect international law to avert further loss of civilian life and humanitarian catastrophe. As is often the case, civilians are bearing the brunt of this violence. It is imperative to urgently end the present violations of human rights. Collective punishment of civilians can never be tolerated.

At such moments of escalation, it is easy to lose sight of the wider context. One important aspect often overlooked is the implication of statelessness experienced by millions of Palestinians today, and since 1948. As the most protracted and largest situation of statelessness globally, we have engaged and collaborated with many Palestinians - both in the region and in the diaspora - as part of our work to promote the rights of stateless people (including the realisation of the universal right to a nationality). Despite this, Palestinian experiences are still often excluded from discussions, forums, and frameworks on statelessness. Statelessness is an important obstacle in the realisation of sustainable peace and must be addressed as a priority.

As one of the few parties to the UN statelessness conventions in the region, Israel has a particular duty to respect and protect the rights of stateless people living in territories under its control and to prevent and reduce statelessness. Palestinians deprived of an effective nationality have been variously dispossessed of their historic lands, displaced, and continue to live under Israeli occupation. Statelessness has made Palestinians particularly vulnerable to subsequent displacement and human rights violations across the region and beyond. The lack of compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law and human rights treaty body recommendations, and the failure of the international community to ensure this, has maintained the ever-deepening spiral of suffering and violence.

We stress that the issue of statelessness cannot be ignored in work to push for a longer-term, just solution for both Israelis and Palestinians and the promotion of sustainable peace and security in the region. Any serious plan must take account of and seek a fast and sustainable solution to the multi-generational statelessness lived by millions of Palestinians in the region and beyond.

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