Unprotected: Palestinians in Egypt Since 1948
Co-published with the International Development Research Center (IDRC), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
The small and scattered Palestinian community in Egypt was formed mainly from the refugee waves coming into the country following the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars. Unlike Palestinian refugees in the other areas bordering Palestine, they do not live in refugee camps and are not served by any international agency. Since the late 1970s when there was a change in Egyptian government policy, they have extremely limited rights and a precarious legal status. The great majority of the Palestinians in Egypt is therefore “unprotected.”
Based on face-to-face interviews with scores of Palestinian families in both rural and urban areas of Egypt, this book focuses on the life situations and coping or survival strategies mobilized by a vulnerable population trying to get by in an often adverse legal and political environment. The field research material is set in a solid historical and legal framework, with the interviews used to illustrate chapters on the Palestinians’ arrival in Egypt, settlement patterns, evolving Egyptian policies towards the Palestinians, the PLO’s history with Egypt and its ramifications, changing regulations governing residency rights and travel documents, employment, property ownership, and access to education and health services. A final chapter addresses Palestinian protection under international law, while identity issues are discussed in the context of the post-Oslo return to Gaza and the pull of assimilation. Overall, the book presents a broad portrait of the Palestinian communit(ies) in Egypt and should be of interest to anyone concerned with Palestinians in general, refugee and human rights issues, and Egypt’s long history with the Palestinian movement.