Media attention has focused on the loss of life and property in the bombardment of Gaza, the domestic skirmishes between Jewish and Arab, and ’ rocket attacks on . Yet there are unique implications for communities in , too.
In registered with the UN Relief and Works Agency ( ). Of this number, around 180,000 currently seek inside the country. Most of these are descendants of from the Arab- War of 1948. In addition, hosts a further 27,700 Palestinian who had lived in Syria but fled that country after a civil war erupted in 2011. According to unofficial estimates, there were already 250,000 in and another 53,000 who arrived from Syria., more than 470,000 are
The Future of Jerusalem Matters to Us All
If fighting between theand were to resume after the brokering of the current ceasefire, and if violence spread to northern , adjacent to the Lebanese border, there is the potential for a new exodus to neighboring countries. Yet in , one of the taboo topics among the political elites is an open dialogue about the country’s responsibility toward . This is rooted in two historical facts: First, the existence of camps in as a state within a state, having their own community rules and norms, and second, the vivid memories of the role played in the Lebanese Civil War between 1975 and 1990 and subsequent agreements that enshrined their extra-legal status.
Second-Class Residents in Lebanon
The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS) recently published a policy brief titled, “Legal Limbo: Who is a in ?” According to the LCPS, Lebanese “authorities have been unwilling to recognize … [the] status [of Palestinians] or carry out their responsibilities in providing them with key rights.” refuses to acknowledge their status because it would entitle to certain rights under international law, such as freedom of movement, health care and education. The paper states that “the Lebanese government insists that is not a country of asylum, and provides with limited protection space and rights. … [Palestinians] are among the most deprived communities in : They face poor living and housing conditions, high unemployment, restrictions from exercising 39 liberal and syndicated professions, restrictions on property ownership, and limited access to public services.”
Some fortunate double the poverty level and unemployment of the Lebanese.in have been able to surreptitiously own businesses fronted by Lebanese companies, while others have found specialized employment as a result of their educational credentials. But the reality remains that are second-class residents in with restricted rights. Their only available employment options are limited to guest worker status in construction, agriculture, domestic services and similar low-paid jobs that Lebanese citizens have been reluctant to perform. Generally, have
For decades, Lebanese leaders have insisted that recognizingas would impose enormous costs on . They argue that doing so could lead to consequences that would upset the sectarian balance that is the basis of the government; political offices in are split among the country’s three biggest communities — Christian, Shia and Sunni.
In the 1950s and 1960s, around 50,000 Christian citizenship. In the 1990s, about 60,000 mostly Shia Muslims received Lebanese nationality. This resulted in an uproar by Lebanese Maronites, which led to citizenship being given to “mainly Christian .” The majority of the remaining stateless are Sunnis. If they were to be given citizenship, Lebanese authorities “fear that integration of so many Sunnis would upset the country’s precarious sectarian” makeup, posing challenging questions.were given Lebanese
state, “There shall be no segregation of the people on the basis of any type of belonging, and no fragmentation, partition, or settlement of non-Lebanese in .” This was done to make clear that any resettlement of in would violate the constitution.is not a signatory to most international protocols extending protections to populations. The Lebanese Constitution was amended after the civil war to explicitly
This question becomes relevant in light of the reality that the latest Gaza conflict betweenand may reach the West Bank. Such a scenario would lead to more and the possibility of fighting spreading to the north of .
Under international law, there are three durable solutions for: voluntary repatriation, resettlement and local integration. Voluntary repatriation, referred to as the “right of return,” is anathema to who cannot consider even a fraction of and their descendants attempting to reclaim property they owned before 1948 but now largely occupied by . Resettlement refers to third-country placement, which has seen emigrating to Europe, Gulf Arab states, the US and other destinations where quotas for are recently being curtailed.
Local integration would require complicated by the fact that under the UN Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to see and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” Since that document is a reference point in the preamble to the Lebanese Constitution, it can then be argued that the right to seek asylum in is a constitutional right.to follow Jordan’s example and allow , over time, to acquire citizenship and the rights entitled to them. This is further
So, the outcome of this latest conflict has consequences for, even though there were no cross-border provocations that the may deem acts of war — yet. It is not inconceivable that may turn to forced emigration of Palestinian- citizens as a security measure, should there be a major conflict within its borders. Whether or not this is being considered at this point remains to be seen, but it is an issue that cannot be overlooked. It is up to Lebanon’s friends to insist under any scenario that the country’s territorial integrity be honored and that the Lebanese government does all that it can to limit provocations from its territory.
It is also time for the Lebanese to face the reality thatare not returning to . A more creative and stable set of options must be discussed before the choices become constrained by another conflict.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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