The ethnic roots of Jordan's population are diverse. Modern-day Jordan's line of kings are descendants of the sharif of Mecca in the Hijaz, in today's Saudi Arabia. Jordan's population includes Arab Syrians and Palestinians as well as Circassians and Chechens, a relatively new element of Jordanian society, having arrived around 1880-1900 as refugees from Russian advances in the Caucasus. Jordanians are overwhelmingly Muslim, with Arab Christian and Druze minorities. Jordanians hail from nomadic tribes, as well as settled urban and rural communities. Many tribes have family branches spanning the East Bank and West Bank of the Jordan River.
The area known today as Jordan was part of the Ottoman Empire until the latter's defeat in World War I. Based on a British-French agreement to divide the empire, the Sykes-Picot agreement, the French would administer Syria, and the British Palestine. "[I]t was unclear at the time where one ended and the other started," David Fromkin, an historian of the era, observed. In June 1920 Britain and France began to discuss the borders between their spheres of influence, and in December that year agreed that British-administered Palestine would include Transjordan. In June 1922 Britain produced a White Paper that "formally detached Transjordan from Mandatory Palestine. However, Transjordan, although administered separately, was technically part of the mandate over Palestine that the League of Nations had offered Britain. In 1923 Abdullah bin Husain from the Hijaz, whose family had fought with the British against the Ottoman Empire, became the ruler of Transjordan, although formal independence came only in 1946. Following the end of Britain's mandate over Palestine and the ensuing Arab-Israeli war of 1948, Transjordan captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and in December 1948 leaders in Palestinian society, at a conference in Jericho, decided to place the West Bank and East Jerusalem under the sovereignty of Transjordan (which in 1949 changed its name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan). Following elections in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the East Bank, a joint session of East Bank and West Bank parliamentarians in April 1950 affirmed that decision.
Of the estimated 700,000 Palestinians, who in 1948 fled their homes or were expelled during the fighting in what today is Israel, about one-third to one-half fled to the West Bank and between 70,000 and 100,000 to Transjordan. An estimated 300,000-440,000 persons lived in Transjordan at that time. With the extension of sovereignty over the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Jordan (unlike Egypt in its administration of Gaza, captured at the same time), conferred its nationality and full citizenship on Palestinians residing there, and those from the West Bank or from areas now within the state of Israel, but now living in the East Bank.
Following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, "200,000 or more, mostly denizens of refugee camps, had fled the war and its immediate aftermath to the East Bank." Jordan accepted those refugees and continued to treat them as its nationals. A smaller group had fled from Gaza to Jordan were received as refugees and not granted Jordanian nationality.
After 1967, Jordan created a Ministry of Occupied Territories to continue paying salaries and pensions of West Bank municipal employees. In the 1970s Jordanian authorities began registering West Bank residents displaced by the 1967 war to the East Bank; estimates cite between 217,000 and 250,000 West Bankers arriving in the East Bank. Israel for its part in August 1967 registered Palestinian residents of the occupied West Bank, but not those who had fled or remained outside. Only those registered in the 1967 census obtained the right to residence in the West Bank.
In June 1983 Jordan introduced a system of color-coded cards for Jordanians from the West Bank to facilitate their travel between Jordan's East Bank and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. West Bank residents received a green card, and persons originally from the West Bank, or having fled there in 1948, residing in the East Bank received a yellow card (this is explained in more detail in Chapter II). The necessity for the cards remains unclear, though the officials have said that the cards were meant to facilitate travel to and from the West Bank under Israeli occupation. They did not entail legal differentiation of citizenship rights, though that was their practical effect then, differentiating the freedom of movement. Increasingly, it is their implied legal effect today.
In December 1987 the Palestinian intifada against the Israeli occupation began. Its demonstration of Palestinian national aspirations, the increasing role of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in realizing those aspirations, including on the international stage, and economic troubles for Jordan contributed to the late King Hussein's decision in 1988 to relinquish Jordan's claims to the West Bank. In an address on July 31, King Hussein announced that Jordan would "respect the wish of the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people [according to an Arab League decision of 1974], to secede from us as an independent Palestinian state." Responding to this PLO request to secede, Jordan severed its legal and administrative ties to the West Bank, a process generally known as "disengagement" and "severance of ties" (fakk al-irtibat in Arabic).
Under instructions issued pursuant to the disengagement, residents of the West Bank at the time lost their Jordanian nationality and citizenship rights, becoming instead stateless Palestinians under Israeli occupation.
In August 1990 Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait, which hosted an estimated 400,000 Palestinians at the time, most of them from the West Bank and holding Jordanian nationality. A US-led coalition, including Arab states, ended Iraq's occupation of Kuwait in February 1991. Jordan's and the PLO's failure to support Kuwait, however, led to Kuwait ending residency rights of Palestinians, and around 250,000 Palestinians, 200,000 of whom were Jordanian nationals, returned to Jordan by the end of 1991 (including Rania al-Yasin, now Jordan's queen). The Jordanian citizens among them had their full citizenship rights recognized upon arrival.
In 1993 the PLO and Israel concluded the Oslo Accords, which, expanded over the next few years, established a Palestinian Authority (PA), held elections for a Palestinian Council, and granted limited self-rule to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza while maintaining the overall Israeli military administration under occupation. In 1994 Jordan and Israel concluded a peace treaty.
The peace process between Israel and the PA had already seriously deteriorated by the time a new intifada broke out in September 2000. In response, Israel increased its military presence in the occupied territories, and Jordan briefly closed its borders to the West Bank, fearing a fourth wave of Palestinians streaming into the kingdom.
Following the king's decision to disengage from the West Bank in 1988, Jordanians have resented claims put forward by some Israelis that Jordan is an "alternative homeland" for Palestinians, thus eliminating the need for a separate Palestinian state. The corollary of the idea of an "alternative homeland" for Palestinians is to permanently incorporate the West Bank into Israel and for the Palestinians living there to move to Jordan. Apart from opposition to Israeli expansionism and a further uprooting of Palestinians in the West Bank, some have cited Jordan's poverty of resources, and the need for a "demographic balance" as an added factor behind the government's desire to reduce its population by withdrawing nationality.
Over the past two years, Jordanian officials have defended withdrawing nationality from Jordanians of Palestinian origin-that is, those whose family roots lie in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem-as a means to counter Israeli designs to thwart a Palestinian state, and supposed Israeli plans to maintain the option of transferring the West Bank's Palestinian population to Jordan. On July 3, 2009, journalist Bassam Badarin wrote in Al-Quds Al-Arabi that Minister of Interior Nayif al-Qadi considered allegations of arbitrary withdrawals of nationality part of "an Israeli conspiracy." The same Al-Quds Al-Arabi article cited an unnamed former prime minister as arguing that "the highest interests of state" required a "demographic balance" in Jordan, implying no more Palestinian migration to the kingdom. Other officials are more explicit in what these highest interests of state are. The Interior Ministry spokesperson, Ziyad al-Zu'bi, in July 2009 said his ministry was implementing the disengagement by withdrawing nationality to "prevent Judaization of Palestinian territory and the establishment of an alternative homeland." The Jordan Times quoted unnamed "Interior officials" as defending withdrawal of nationality of Jordanians of Palestinian origin as a means to "counter Israeli policies to 'empty the Palestinian lands from their legitimate residents.'"
"The People of Jordan," King Hussein's website, http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/people1.html (accessed October 12, 2009).
 David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace, (New York: Avon Books, 1990), p. 441.
 Franco-British Convention on Certain Points Connected with the Mandates for Syria and the Lebanon, Palestine and Mesopotamia, signed December 23, 1920. Text available in American Journal of International Law, Vol. 16, No. 3, 1922, pp. 122–126.
 Benny Morris, Righteous Victims. The Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001, (New York: Vintage Books, 2001), p. 88.
 Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace, p. 505. Fromkin observes, on p. 514, "The recurring suggestion that Palestine be partitioned between Arabs and Jews ran up against the problem that 75 percent of the country had already been given to an Arab dynasty [the Hashemites ruling Transjordan] that was not Palestinian. The newly created province of Transjordan, later to become the independent state of Jordan, gradually drifted into existence as an entity separate from the rest of Palestine."
 King Abdullah appointed the Palestinian delegates to the conference. See Oroub Al Abed, "Palestinian Refugees in Jordan," Forced Migration Online Research Guide, February 2004, http://www.forcedmigration.org/guides/fmo025/ (accessed August 26, 2009), p. 3.
 Raja'i Dajani, "Withdrawal of Nationality … and Its Effects on the Rights and Freedoms of Individuals [سحب الجنسية ... وتأثيرها على حقوق وحريات الأفراد]," unpublished paper presented at the Professional Associations Complex, February 24, 2008, p. 3. Copy on File with Human Rights Watch. The joining of the West Bank under Jordanian sovereignty has variably been described as unification or annexation, implying an improper action. A website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls it an "annexation" while at the same time quoting from the Jordanian parliamentary resolution declaring the "union" of the West Bank and East Bank:
In April 1950, Jordan annexed the areas it had occupied by military force in 1948. On 24 April 1950, the Jordan House of Deputies and House of Notables, in a joint session, adopted the following Resolution annexing the West Bank and Jerusalem:
In the expression of the people's faith in the efforts spent by His Majesty, Abdullah, toward attainment of natural aspirations, and basing itself on the right of self-determination and on the existing de facto position between Jordan and Palestine and their national, natural and geographic unity and their common interests and living space, Parliament, which represents both sides of the Jordan, resolves this day and declares:
First, its support for complete unity between the two sides of the Jordan and their union into one State, which is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, at whose head reigns King Abdullah Ibn al Husain, on a basis of constitutional representative government and equality of the rights and duties of all citizens….
See "Jordanian Annexation of West Bank – Resolution Adopted by the House of Deputies," Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Relations, Historical Documents, Volumes 1-2: 1947-1974, chapter 10, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign+Relations/Israels+Foreign+Relations+since+1947/1947-1974/10+Jordanian+Annexation+of+West+Bank-+Resolution+A.htm (accessed December 8, 2009). For a brief discussion of international recognition of this move, see Sanford R. Silverburg, "Pakistan and the West Bank: A Research Note," Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 19, no. 2, April 1983, pp. 261-263.
 There is a range of estimates for the number of Palestinians displaced from their homes in the period 1947-48, from 420,000 at the low end, to 950,000 at the high end. McGill University's Palestinian Refugee ResearchNet provides some estimates for displaced Palestinians in that period: see http://prrn.mcgill.ca/background/index.htm (accessed October 12, 2009). See also Morris, Righteous Victims, p. 252: "About 700,000 Arabs-the figure was later to be a major point of dispute, the Israelis officially speaking of some 520,000, the Palestinian themselves of 900,000-1,000,000-fled or were ejected from the areas that became the Jewish state."
On the figure of about one-third fleeing to the West Bank, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency cites 506,200 registered refugees in Jordan for 1950, including 100,000 in the East Bank (see below), with the remainder in the West Bank. The 406,000 are between one-third and one-half of the overall number of refugees-914,221-registered with UNRWA that year. See "Number of Registered Refugees," United Nations Relief and Works Agency, http://www.un.org/unrwa/refugees/pdf/reg-ref.pdf (accessed December 8, 2009). Gilbar writes, "The most reasonable estimate is that 630,000-680,000 left their homes during 1948. Of these, 360,000-380,000 moved to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip." Gad G. Gilbar, "Population Growth and Migration, the Palestinian Communities, 1949-1987" in Gad G. Gilbar, ed., Population Dilemmas in the Middle East (Oxford and New York: Frank Cass, 1997), p. 11.
On the figure of 70,000, see ibid., p. 12. On the figure of 100,000 Palestinian refugees moving to the East Bank, see United Nations Relief and Works Agency, "Jordan Refugee Camp Profiles," http://www.un.org/unrwa/refugees/jordan.html (accessed December 8, 2009): "In 1948, an estimated 100,000 refugees crossed the Jordan River and initially took shelter in temporary camps, in mosques and schools, or in towns and villages."
 The figure of 300,000 is given in C.B. Dear and M.R.D. Foot. The Oxford Companion to World War II (Oxford University Press, 2001), s.v. "Transjordan," http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O129-Transjordan.html (accessed December 8, 2009). The figure of 440,000 "largely indigenous, Transjordanian population" is given in Laurie A. Brand, "A Crisis of Identity," in Journal of Palestine Studies, vol.24, no 3 (1995), p. 47.
 Morris, Righteous Victims, p. 336.
 Helen Chapin Metz, ed. "Jordan: A Country Study," secti0n "Council of Ministers," GPO for the Library of Congress, 1989, http://countrystudies.us/jordan/ (accessed August 26, 2009); and Article 74, a division of the Alternative Information Center, "Facts and Figures – 1967 Displaced Persons," issue 12b, 1995, http://www.badil/org/Publications/Article74/1995/art12b.htm (accessed August 26, 2009).
 BADIL, "From the 1948 Nakba to the 1967 Naksa," Occasional Bulletin No. 18, June 2004, p.3.
 King Hussein bin Talal, Address to the Nation, Amman, July 31, 1988, www.kinghussein.gov.jo (accessed May 6, 2009).
Jihad al-Rantisi, "The Nationality Withdrawal Phobia [فيبيا سحب الجنسية]," Al-Hadath, http://www.al-hadath.com/look/article.tpl?IdLanguage=17&IdPublication=1&NrArticle=6895&NrIssue=688&NrSection=2 (accessed July 8, 2009), and for "demographic balance": Bassam Badarin, "Withdrawal of Nationalities in Jordan: Those Who Lost Their National Numbers Refuse to Become Bidun", Al-Quds Al-Arabi (Amman), July 3, 2009, http://www.alquds.co.uk/archives/2009/07/07-02/qfi.pdf (accessed October 6, 2009)..
 Bassam Badarin, "Withdrawal of Nationalities in Jordan, Al-Quds Al-Arabi (Amman), July 3, 2009.
 "'Interior' Clarifies Disengagement Instructions Concerning Yellow and Green Cards", Al-Arab Al-Yawm (Amman), July 18, 2009, http://ammonnews.net/article.aspx?ARticleNo=41930 (accessed July 18, 2009).
 Khetam Malkawi, "House Panel Backs Ministry Procedures on 'Citizenship Revocation,'" Jordan Times, July 17, 2009.