The meanings of citizenship between resettlement and return: the case of displaced palestinians

Jinan Bastaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The issue of citizenship and Palestinian refugees has always been linked to their joint relationship to the right of return. Palestinian refugees were initially apprehensive towards the acquisition of citizenship, as many believed that this would be used to replace their right to return to the homes they were displaced from. As Israel insisted on resettlement as the only solution to the refugees’ predicament, Arab states–with the exception of Jordan–refused to grant Palestinian refugees citizenship in order to preserve their Palestinian nationality and right to return. However, due to decades of statelessness and secondary displacement, increasing numbers of Palestinian refugees have sought citizenship elsewhere. Through a historical account as well as interviews with both stateless Palestinians and Palestinians with citizenship, this paper explores the social, political and legal implications of the acquisition of citizenship for Palestinian refugees, and the various meanings citizenship holds for those denied rights in their place of residence and return to their homes, from simply as a means to a better life to a means of resistance. It also shows that, for many, the acquisition of citizenship is not a replacement for the right of return, contrary to the views of state actors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-175
Number of pages22
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 17 2020


  • citizenship
  • Israel-Palestine
  • Refugees
  • right of return

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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