Briefing: Palestinians and the search for protection as refugees and stateless persons in Europe

Advocacy Briefing

This briefing offers a succinct summary of key issues faced by Palestinians when seeking protection and recommendations to different actors in Europe. It builds on our comprehensive review of the legal framework, jurisprudence and policy across Europe on this issue, published jointly by ENS and BADIL last month. 

What is the issue? 

Palestinians who have not acquired a nationality (other than Palestinian) should be considered stateless under the definition set out in the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

This is mainly because Palestine remains under occupation by Israel, does not have full sovereignty, does not have full control over issuance of official documentation or entry and exit to its territory, and because attempts to enact a Palestinian nationality law have failed. This does not negate the fact that Palestinians have an entitlement to Palestinian nationality under international law.

Our research reveals that countries across Europe have very different approaches to providing protection to Palestinians. Worryingly, many European countries do not recognise that Palestinians are stateless, either in refugee status determination procedures under the 1951 Convention or as stateless persons under the 1954 Convention. As a result, Palestinians continue to face barriers in accessing adequate protection in many European countries, sometimes with subsequent impact on their children.

This new briefing  focuses on five key issues which need to be addressed to achieve a harmonised approach to the protection of Palestinians across Europe. It contains detailed recommendations towards European states, European institutions, international organisations, civil society, the judiciary and bar councils.

Next Steps 

Our research has highlighted the urgent need for more reasoned and fairer decision-making on applications for refugee status or statelessness status submitted by Palestinians in Europe. This includes a need for more and better information, awareness-raising, and capacity-building to address gaps in the international and national frameworks, and to provide clarity on mandates and access to protection. 

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