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Short Take

New Eased Regulations for Jordanians Traveling to the UK Exclude Many Palestinians Holding Jordanian Passports


Palestinians with Jordanian passports (including most Jerusalemites) realize they will not benefit from eased travel rules for Jordanians entering the UK.

The UK recently announced a new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system, whereby travelers from Jordan and a number of Gulf countries will be able to enter the UK without a visa, just by applying for an ETA, as Americans and Australians currently do.

This means that as of February 2024, for a modest fee of £10 (around $12.50), Jordanian citizens can be granted a two-year multiple-entry visa to the UK within three days.1 Currently, Jordanians pay $124 (£100) for a single-visit six-month-stay visa or $478 (£376) for a two-year visa.2

This agreement, demonstrating the strong partnership between Jordan and the UK, will undeniably be a great step for Jordanians, as it will be beneficial for various individuals including skilled workers, students, businesspeople, and tourists.

Travelers lined up at the UK Border point, Heathrow Airport, London UK, August 6, 2021

Travelers lined up at the UK Border point, Heathrow Airport, London, UK, August 6, 2021



The Historically Close Ties between Jordan and Palestinians from the West Bank

This easing of travel for Jordanians to the UK would have been great news for Palestinian Jerusalemites. After all, East Jerusalem is part of the occupied West Bank, which was annexed by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. During that period, Palestinians from the West Bank as well as Palestinian refugees in Jordan were granted Jordanian citizenship, which for many was the only citizenship they had.

In 1983, however, Jordan began considering Palestinians who lived in the West Bank (including Jerusalem) to have only temporary status in Jordan and changed their passports to a “temporary” two-year passport that can be used solely as a travel document and does not grant citizenship rights or nationality to the holder.

Then, in 1988, Jordan severed its ties to the West Bank and decreed that “every person residing in the West Bank before the date of 31/7/1988 will be considered as a Palestinian and not as a Jordanian.”3 An estimated 1–1.5 million Palestinians overall were stripped of Jordanian national rights and citizenship in this way;4 most of them still carry the “temporary travel” Jordanian passport in 2023. Technically, unless they have another passport, they are stateless (see Precarious Status).

Despite the temporary status, Jerusalemite Palestinians with these Jordanian passports are able to travel. The news of easing travel for Jordanian travelers to the UK would thus have been good for them.

Or so they thought.

It turns out, however, that when the agreement between Jordan and the UK was made, Palestinians were left out of the equation.

The proposed agreement explains that Palestinians (including Palestinians of Jerusalem) carrying the “temporary” Jordanian passports are not included in this arrangement. They will therefore still be required to go through a long, cumbersome, and costly process to apply for a visa to travel to the UK.

Backgrounder Precarious, Not Permanent: The Status Held by Palestinian Jerusalemites (Pt. 1)

An in-depth look at the extraordinarily precarious legal status held by Palestinian Jerusalemites, and how it has become more precarious over time

Inequality in Travel Arrangements

Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.”5 That notwithstanding, human beings, regardless of their beliefs, ethics, opinions, behaviors, and overall codes of conduct are still discriminated against solely based on their place and circumstances of birth. The bias in the travel permit system is reflective of the global disparity in the world, and of privilege generally.

When the agreement between Jordan and the UK was made, Palestinians with these temporary passports were left out of the equation. Of course, Jordanians themselves suffer from this discrimination, as they rank low in the visa system. Great numbers of Jordanian citizens go through such difficulty in order to be allowed to travel to places such as Europe, the US, and Australia, among others.

According to the Henley Passport Index page, Jordanian citizens can travel to 20 countries visa-free. These include Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, and Turkey. There are 27 other countries in which Jordanian citizens can obtain visas upon arrival, including Yemen, Rwanda, and Armenia. Entry to two additional countries, namely, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, can be obtained via the ETA. In total, Jordanians have “visa-free” access to about 49 countries.6

In comparison, about 100 countries in the world today have visa-free access to at least 100 countries—double the amount of Jordan. Singapore, ranking among the highest in the visa status, has visa-free access to 193 countries.7

Still, it is much worse for Palestinians: The Palestinian Territory is among the bottom 10 countries around the world when it comes to requiring visas and being permitted to travel, falling just above Afghanistan (the lowest), Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Meanwhile, Israel has visa-free access to 159 countries—and is exempt, much like most other countries, from obtaining visas to the Schengen Area, which consists of 26 European countries.8

Feature Story The Israel-US Visa Waiver Agreement: What Does It Mean for Palestinian American Travelers?

To gain entry into the US Visa Waiver program, Israel has been pushed to agree to ensure equal treatment for US citizens entering, exiting, or transiting the country. But will it?

Palestinians Left Out

It is impressive that the Kingdom of Jordan is looking out for the benefit of its people by easing travel for its residents while making use of its strong ties with the UK. Although Jordanians traveling to the UK from now on will still be required to provide biometric details and a photo, and answer questions, they will have a far simpler travel process that can all be handled on a mobile phone app.

Unfortunately, however, Palestinians who carry the Jordan passport with “T” (temporary) status are left out.

“That ‘T’ needs to have been an ‘F,’” says Janna, a Palestinian Jerusalemite young woman who is passionate about traveling. She expresses the deep exasperation of Palestinians in Jerusalem, whose permanent-resident status leaves them largely in limbo: Not Israeli, not Palestinian, not Jordanian Jerusalemite—Palestinians find their legal status always “depending” on a political situation. Janna was born in 1992, a year before the Oslo Accords, and the status of Jerusalemites has remained unresolved and undetermined since. “I’m turning 31 this October,” she shares. “At this point, I have learned that we as Jerusalemite Palestinians are always left out, but this news has still been deeply shocking and heartbreaking.”

“This news has still been deeply shocking and heartbreaking.”

Janna, 31, Palestinian Jerusalemite who loves to travel



Mustafa Abu Sneineh and Mohammad Ersan, “UK’s Jordan Visa Waiver Shows Deepening Ties between Kingdoms,” Middle East Eye, June 22, 2023.


Al Arabiya English, “UK Announces Major Visa Changes for GCC Nations, Jordanian Citizens,” Al Arabiya News, June 7, 2023; Abu Sneineh and Ersan, “UK’s Jordan Visa Waiver.”


National Legislative Bodies / National Authorities, “Jordan: Disengagement Regulations for the Year 1988,” July 28, 1988, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (emphasis in the original).


Francoise De Bel-Air, A Political Demography of the Refugee Question – Palestinians in Jordan and Lebanon: Between Protection, Forced Return, and Resettlement (Florence: Migration Policy Centre, 2012), 20.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations, accessed August 16, 2023.


Global Ranking,” Henley Passport Index. 


“Global Ranking.”


“Global Ranking.”

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