"Parliament reached its decision after much deliberation. This led to a vote in parliament where the legislation was approved. Several days later, the legislation was authorised by president Fuad Masum", confirmed an official from presidents' office.
Beneath legislation Nº 202 Palestinians in Iraq were granted free education, access to healthcare, employment opportunities, bank services, free housing and were exempt from tax payments, in addition to rights enjoyed by Iraqi citizens. Despite not holding Iraqi citizenship, Palestinians had the right to obtain travel documents in order to freely travel outside and inside of Iraq.
These privileges will all be reversed under the new legislation. Palestinians, no longer regarded as equals, will be treated as foreigners inside a country they have called home for decades.
The president's legal office confirmed that the legislation approved (Nº 76) was intended to annul the preceding legislation (Nº 202) issued back in 2001, by Iraq's former Revolutionary Command Council in 2001, two years before America's invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.
The law opens up what many observers describe the 'protection gap' that has entrapped various strands of Iraq's society who since 2003 have been singled out by new political entities as 'foreigners'.
The latest legislation codifies this perception and any corresponding behaviour. Al Araby al Jadeed reported that once the news is made public, the legislation will come into force.
Thousands will be affected, despite the steady migration of Palestinians seeking a safer living environment than that which Iraq offers today. The ruling places generations of Palestinians in Iraq under serious under attack by depriving them of basic rights.
A senior official with ties to the president's office told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that legislation 202 was issued as part of a wider package of laws dealing with the status of non-Iraqi residents as issued during the reign of former President Saddam Hussein. The senior official whose name al Araby al Jadeed kept undisclosed, admitted that the new law is “inhumane for Palestinians".
"Women and children" will be the hardest hit, a member of the Palestine Association of Iraq told Al Araby al Jadeed. "From now on, they have to pay for the same services they have enjoyed”.
“The Palestinian community in Iraq has become the poorest Palestinian community in the world, since Iraq fell under US occupation in 2003". The unnamed source added that the Palestinian ambassador in Baghdad, Ahmed al-Aql had not received any prior warning regarding the new law or the surrounding motives.
The number of the Palestinians in Iraq has declined significantly since the US-led invasion 14 years ago. Hundreds became direct targets of violence by for US forces, who arrested, maimed and killed dozens of Palestinians.
Since 2006, Palestinians have suffered the same fate only under new perpetrators, Iran-allied militias that include Badr Corps, Mahdi army and Asa'in ahl al Haq. Their assassination and displacement campaigns against Palestinians are well documented as human rights reports commissioned by various agencies live to tell.
The overall number of the Palestinians living in Iraq has dwindled to several thousands.
Most of the Palestinians in Iraq are originally descended from the villages Ajzam, Jabaa and Ein Ghazal of the occupied Palestinian city of Haifa. Hundreds of them who came from Jaffa, Nablus, Jerusalem and Haifa settled in Iraqi cities of Baghdad, Basra, Mosul and Fallujah, the latter was the first to host them. They moved to Iraq in 1948, many relocating from Jordan.
Today they live in very poor conditions, receiving very little help from the Iraqi government or the international community and face a variety of hardships that ensure the community subsists below the poverty line.
By Othman al-Mukhtar
Translated by Nazli Tarzi