Two Palestinians, deemed ‘stateless’ by the United States, were deported to Cairo airport on Wednesday, a top Interior Ministry official told Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity. Their deportation from the US sparked anger from the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), who criticised the US government’s decision to deport the women.
The plight of these two women highlighted the struggle of all Palestinians, officially the largest group of ‘stateless’ people in the world, rights groups contend. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. State Department both refuse to recognise Palestinian Authority Passports or Travel Documents as proof of citizenship.
Initially, little had been revealed about the two Palestinians. According to official sources within the Interior Ministry, the two Palestinian women were living in Texas before being deported to Egypt. The ADC had previously said the two Palestinians deported were brothers. The Electronic Intifada, an activist news portal, reported the two could be held indefinitely at the airport, since the Gaza blockade is enforced by both Egypt and the US.
The notion Egyptian authorities would hold them indefinitely in the airport is false, the Interior Ministry official said.
“Procedurally this would not be logical,” he stated. “Either they have a visa, in which case they are free to move around, or they have no visa, in which case the Palestinian Authority consulate sends down a member of their staff to escort them to the Rafah crossing,” he explained.
“There is a bus which leaves the airport at 8 am every morning to the Rafah crossing particularly for Palestinians,” he said.
According to the official, the Palestinian women arrived on an Egypt Air flight from New York on 11 July. They were escorted by four American security guards and left the following day to Rafah on the 8 am bus, accompanied by a representative of the consulate.
The two women fall under theUnited Nations category of “stateless.”
The Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons’ of 1954, defines a stateless person as one who is “not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law.”
The US continued support of the Israeli blockade of Gaza and its refusal to recognise the state of Palestine severely hinders the Palestinian bid for statehood.