Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, under extreme pressure over the real possibility that he will lose the March 17 elections, has made a powerful appeal to his far right wing constituency by openly admitting that he will never allow a Palestinian state and that he intends to flood Israeli squatters into East Jerusalem and its environs to make sure this Occupied territory never returns to the Palestinians.
Millions of Palestinians whose families were violently expelled from their homes by Jewish settlers in Mandate Palestine in 1947-48 remain stateless. These include the people of Gaza, the West Bank (four million) and a million or more in diasporas in Lebanon, Syria, and other countries. A million Palestinians are now citizens in Israel, and others have rights of citizenship in far-flung places like Chile and Honduras, as well as the United States. But I figure five million at least remain stateless.
Statelessness is rare in today’s world, a result of reforms initiated by the international community after the horrors of World War II and its preceding decades. Franco rendered many on the Spanish Left stateless after his victory in the Civil War in 1939 (not to mention massacring tens of thousands of them). The White Russians lost citizenship after their revolt against the Communists failed. The Nazis took citizenship rights away from Jews, Gypsies and others in Europe. In fact, the Holocaust was made practically possible in part by the denial of citizenship to Jews, which left them with no access to courts or other levers of social power that might have combated the monstrous Nazi plans for genocide.
Millions were stateless in the 1930s and 1940s, and their lack of citizenship rights often exposed them to ethnic cleansing or loss of property and displacement.