It looks like Palestinians in the Netherlands will be soon able to register ‘Palestinian territories’ or ‘Palestinian occupied territories’ as birthplace when filing for official documentation in the Netherlands. The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations recently let lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld know that it is working on a solution; it is expected that something can be arranged within the next six months.


At the moment, the municipal administration in the Netherlands uses incorrect names when referring to the occupied Palestinian territories. To name a few examples: the area where East Jerusalem is located is registered as e.g. ‘Jordan’, ‘Israel’ or simply ‘Unknown’. Bethlehem (located on the West bank in Palestinian occupied territory) is referred to as ‘Bethlehem unknown’, ‘Bethlehem International Territory’ or ‘Bethlehem Israel’. Due to the continuing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, this is an extremely sensitive matter for the approximately 8,000 Palestinians who live in the Netherlands.

Zegveld took action on behalf of her Palestinian client Emiel de Bruijne. In April of this year she filed a request with the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations that they make it possible that ‘Palestina’ or ‘(occupied) Palestinian Territories’ is listed as birthplace in his official documents. According to Zegveld, the right to nationality and identity is part of the right to a private life. De Bruijne and the Palestinian community in general are working towards the realization of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the Palestinian territory. Identity and nationality play an essential role in this matter. A correct designation of his birthplace in official documents such as identity cards and birth certificates is therefore of great significance.

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