New policy on Egyptian citizenship for children of Palestinian fathers

By Gianluca P. Parolin, EUDO Citizenship expert for Egypt

Arab state authorities have quite consistently refused to naturalise Palestinians or their offspring in a move to allegedly protect Palestinian identity from vanishing with full integration in the host countries, often against the letter of their own domestic legislation. State authorities did however persistently reference an Arab League summit decision (the Casablanca protocol of 1965) to be the main ground for this policy, known as “rafd al-tawtin” (lit: refusal of nationalisation).

Egypt was no exception. Children born in Egypt of Egyptian mothers and stateless or unknown fathers were deprived of their right to be Egyptian citizens if their fathers were Palestinian, although art. 2 of the Egyptian citizenship law, Law 26/ 1975 provided for citizenship acquisition by a combination of ius soli and maternal ius sanguinis if the father is stateless or unknown. In 2004 an amendment to the Egyptian citizenship law of 1975 brought maternal ius sanguinis on a par with paternal ius sanguinis for children born after the coming into force of the law (art. 1 of Law 154/2004), and a transitional provision allowed children of an Egyptian mother born before the coming into force of the law to notify the Minister of the Interior of their intention to acquire Egyptian nationality. The Minister has one year from the date of notification to refuse (art. 3 of Law 154/2004).

One of the major policy shifts after the “January 25 Revolution” in Egypt has been to grant citizenship to children of Palestinian fathers and Egyptian mothers born before the coming into force of Law 154/2004. Monthly decisions by the Minister of the Interior have been carrying increasing numbers of naturalisations of this kind since July 2011 (see table). What is quite surprising, however, is the legal basis on which the acquisition of Egyptian citizenship is based. Since most of those who are granted citizenship were born in Egypt, they should be Egyptian citizens by birth as per art. 2 of Law 26/1975. However, they are requested to apply/notify the Minister of Interior, who grants Egyptian citizenship with a decision based explicitly on art. 3 of Law 154/2004.

Acquisitions of Egyptian citizenship based on ministerial decision



Total number

Of Which Children of Palestinian fathers


26 Jul 2011




18 Aug 2011




11 Sep 2011




26 Oct 2011