Palestinian refugees are a legally multifaceted group of people formally separated by a range of laws and regulations set by the governments of different host-countries and by the working definition and criterias constructed by UNRWA. The numerous wars and historical upheavals have resulted in several evacuations from their places of residence.

What appears to be a common denominator that distinguishes the legal separation of Palestinians is, first, the external character of these legal identifications. Whether established by UNRWA, or the respective host-countries, Palestinians are subjected to definitions and regulations which are termed and formed by external actors and events.

Secondly, there exists a conflict of interest at the state-level regarding the response to the Palestinian presence in the different countries where Palestinians reside. Governments are primarily concerned about the authority of the state in the presence of considerable numbers of Palestinians. A dilemma arises as to whether a certain government sees its interest enhanced by extending civil rights and including Palestinians as citizens in the respective host-societies, or whether the state's security objectives are best preserved by applying a policy of segregation or limited incorporation. Common for all host-countries is a response that may be described as the application of a "politics of convenience" (Sayigh 1994a:25) reflected by the variety of rights and duties Palestinians are subjected to, and where the paramount objective has been the preservation of the existing state-authority.

Thirdly, on the individual level, there appears to be an inherent contradiction between the expansion of civic rights accorded to refugees, and the maintenance of a Palestinian refugee identity which is, by some Palestinians, perceived to be preserved by segregation from the other members of society. A refugee status is recognised by the unequal opportunities, rights and duties available between non-citizens (refugees) and citizens. The refugee status as a focus element in the society where Palestinians reside is thus reproduced. As a result of the extension of civil rights, the clear-cut concept of the destitute Palestinian refugee inevitably becomes more complicated and liable to change content as the socio-economic and political framework is altered offering more formal opportunities than previously granted. In short, the premises which form the Palestinian identity as a first and foremost a refugee-identity becomes less distinct when Palestinians are accorded equal civil rights in the states where they reside.

The widening of civil rights accorded to Palestinians within the host-countries have, nevertheless, not resulted in assimilation such as the case of Jordan illustrates.

However, in Lebanon where a group of Palestinian refugees have the opportunity of voluntarily seeking a citizenship, the strategies applied by individuals and households reveal to a great extent the refugees" style of adaptation, the alternatives available and the dilemmas arising following the choice of retaining a Palestinian refugee identity or applying for a Lebanese nationality.

The measures applied by refugees in order to encounter and decrease the formal obstacles they face in different states are often the result of strategic choices undertaken under more or less restrictive regulations. Refugees seek to better and increase the opportunities available to them. Whether refugees seek to maintain an SHC-status in the UNRWA-welfare system, ensure that offspring are granted an official legal status, or whether measures include illegal steps such as membership in a political group or seeking illegal work in Israel, they illustrate different strategies of survival that Palestinians apply when faced with formal barriers in different states.

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