News / Middle East

Thousands of Palestinians Leave West Bank for Jordan

Shahinda El Kilani and her family in Amman, Jordan
Shahinda El Kilani and her family in Amman, Jordan


Luis Ramirez

In the last few years, life under the Israeli occupation has prompted thousands of Palestinians to leave their homes in the West Bank and take up residence in neighboring Jordan.  They go in search of a normal life, free of army checkpoints and conflicts with Israeli settlers.  

Life in a luxurious suburb of Amman is much brighter than what Shahinda El Kilani left behind in her native West Bank town of Hebron.

"There is security.  There is stability.  There is no fear.  My children can go out anytime, without my being worried about them," she said.

El Kilani and her family are building a new house, and a new life in Jordan.

They are among the thousands of wealthy Palestinians holding Jordanian citizenship who have left the West Bank to make their homes in Amman.

Palestinians make up between 50 and 80 percent of the population in Jordan, and hold government posts.

El Kilani, like other Palestinian residents, says that while she feels comfortable here, this will never be home.

"For sure, this is not our home," she said. "This is a temporary home until we return to our birthplace."

In Israel, some ultranationalists want the transfer of Palestinians to Jordan.  An online petition is circulating that calls on King Abdullah to to declare Jordan a Palestinian state. Israel's government has distanced itself from the petition, and Palestinians reject it.

"This is not accepted. This will not be done. Jordan cannot have it, will not have it, will not allow it and the Palestinians are against it all the way," said Palestinian political analyst Mahdi Abdel-Hadi. "There is no Palestinian under the sun wherever he is, will accept a substitute alternative homeland for Palestine."

Shahinda El Kilani is disappointed in the peace process and doubts the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will ever end. But for her, hope is not dead.  

"We do not expect anything. At the same time, I still hope that something will come because there is the dream that something good will happen and we can return," she said.

In the meantime, she tries to leave behind the suffering and move toward building a better future for her children on this side of the Jordan River.

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