Adonis Diaries

Right to Return

Posted on: June 14, 2009

Right to Return: for the Palestinian refugees (June 15, 2009)

 

            There are more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and their birth rate is three times the average of the Lebanese.  The Palestinian refugees are concentrated in a dozen camps (ghettoes) and they run their communities. The Lebanese government is not extending facilities to the camps or to issuing work permits.  The UN agency UNRUWA is supposed to care for the education and health of the refugees since they were chased out from their homeland in 1948.  In the last decade the UNRUWA budget has been politically reduced to force the Lebanese government into de facto enacting residency status to the refugees.

            Lebanon facilitated the influx of the Palestinian refugees in 1948 under the perception that it was a temporary stay since UN resolution demanded the return of the Palestinians. Israel exacerbated the problem by sending another wave of refuges in 1967 after it occupied the West Bank.  The Palestinian resistance was born but it failed to rely on the Palestinians inside the State of Israel for effective resistance against the occupiers. 

            There were three camps in the Christian districts which were closed down during the civil war such the ones in Dbayeh, Jesr al Basha, and Tell al Zaatar; the Christian militias forced the evacuation of the Christian Palestinians by military activities, genocide, and terror.

            Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and with the cooperation of the USA and France the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by Arafat was forced to evacuate Beirut to Cyprus and then to Tunisia.  The remaining camps were supposed to be the refuge of civilians and not containing any heavy weapons.

            The entrance/exits of camps are monitored by the Lebanese army and the movement of the refugees strictly controlled.  A salafist Sunni movement “Jund al Sham” challenged the army in Nahr al Bared camp in Tripoli.  This camp is demolished and waiting for financial aid to be re-constructed.

            The ex-President Emile Lahoud fought the good fight to keep the right of return of the UN resolution 194 alive during his tenure. For example, before the Summit of the Arab League in Beirut of April 2002, the Saudi Foreign Affairs Seoud Al Faissal visited President Lahoud on March 22 and handed him the project of the Saudi Monarch of “peace for land” without a specific clause of “the right of return”.  President Lahoud refused it. Lahoud was subjected to al kinds of pressures and diplomatic maneuvering to let the project as is with no modifications but he didn’t relent. The Arab leaders suggested including the “right of return” as a separate clause to no avail. The Saudi Prince Abdallah was forced to include the clause as intrinsic part of the peace for land PROJECT.  The USA vowed to make the tenure of Lahoud a period of hell for foiling their major political goal.

            It is crystal clear that the western nations have a sole political purpose for Lebanon: accepting the Palestinian refugees as Lebanese residents.  The civil war from 1975 to 1991 failed to achieve completely that goal though most of the prosperous Christian families preferred to immigrate.

            Late Rafic Hariri PM believed that an overall peace deal with Israel is highly serious and went along a program of easing the conditions of the Palestinian refugees.  It turned out that there will be no peace with Israel because Israel’s interest is not in any kind of peace.  Pragmatic Hariri realized that the social and political fabric in Lebanon cannot digest 400,000 Palestinians and he changed his strategy; he was assassinated by the detonation of a roadside truck containing 1000 kilos of TNT.

            Though the US Administration comprehends better the predicament of Lebanon it is still hoping that this tragedy could be settled at the expense of the Lebanese people. Hezbollah challenged that strategy and won its war against Israel in 2006. The leader of the Tayyar Party, General Michel Aoun, has picked up the banner of fighting any policies targeted at settling the Palestinians in Lebanon and he won by a landslide in Mount Lebanon.  The coalition of Hezbollah and the Tayyar has put a strong break to the western strategy of reducing Lebanon to a refugee status.

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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