Lebanon, Reform

Palestinian Rights in Lebanon: Reform on the Way?

Contrary to what many reported immediately after the fact, the debate in the Lebanese Parliament last Tuesday over the issue of Palestinian rights did not slam the door on any potential future reforms.

True, no law was passed. But the outcome — a decision to send the draft laws to a review committee and bring them back to Parliament for a vote in one month — is not just acceptable; it was probably the right thing to do. As a friend on the inside recently wrote to me: “It is not acceptable for this or any other parliament to discuss laws that have not had the chance for proper review.  It’s about time someone started holding parliament to account for the job that they do.”

There’s an excellent article in today’s Daily Star that surveys the issue; apparently, several analysts are very optimistic that the law will be passed when it comes up again, thereby rolling back several decades’ worth of institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians in Lebanon. And while I don’t want us to get ahead of ourselves, the fact that this government is actually tackling one of the stickiest issues in Lebanese political culture holds out hope that other similarly radioactive topics might somehow be raised as well in the near future.

Take, for example, the issue of deconfessionalizing the political system. Nabih Berri’s recent proposal to establish a national commission to explore the idea fell flat, largely because it was issued informally via the media. Let’s imagine, instead, that Berri and Jumblatt jointly sponsored a draft electoral law for the 2013 parliamentary elections, based on a non-confessional framework. No one could ignore such a law; they’d have to debate it in Parliament and then vote it down, justifying this decision to their constituents. At the very least, such a move would have the effect of putting the issue in the national spotlight once again.

In other words, both the Palestinian rights question and the deconfessionalism question suffer from similar problems of misinformation, messy thinking, and political fear-mongering. We saw last Tuesday that these problems can be mitigated by separating fact from fiction in the form of a concrete legislative proposal. Deconfessionalism can benefit from this approach as well.

Update: I’m grateful to Rex Brynen, professor of political science at McGill University and expert on the Palestinian refugee problem, for weighing in on this issue in the comment section:

Arguments can be made in favour of extending basic civil (not political rights) to Palestinians in Lebanon on a variety of humanitarian and human rights grounds. For me, frankly, those grounds are enough in and of themselves.

However, quite apart from humanitarian arguments in favour of Jumblat’s proposals, a strong argument can also be made on Lebanese national security grounds.

Can anyone seriously argue that the dangers of violent radicalism are somehow *reduced* by having 250,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon permanently poor, marginalized, and discriminated against? The Fateh al-Islams of this world thrive on the poverty of the camps. The impulse to improve Palestinian conditions (initially under the Siniora government, and now with Hariri supporting Jumblat’s proposed reforms) has been underpinned by the recognition that Lebanese security interests were better served by allowing the Palestinians more normal lives.

Of course, the scarecrow of tawteen always gets raised at this point. The naturalization of Palestinians in Lebanon, however, has nothing to do with whether they can work or own property–it would require a political decision by a future Lebanese government to extend citizenship. That won’t happen, and in any case is constitutionally prohibited.

Should arms be retained inside the camps? I would prefer not– I think they do the refugees far more harm than good. However, given political realities (and, for that matter, the interests of some Lebanese parties) the camps aren’t going to be disarmed soon. Consequently, it is pointless holding human rights hostage to the arms issue. It provides no leverage at all, and only makes the situation worse.

Finally, it is not as if Palestinian refugees have anywhere else to go in the meantime. If and when a Palestinian state is established, then they’ll have the right and ability to repatriate, as well as whatever return might take place to Israel. In the meantime–tragic as it is–the Lebanese and Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon are stuck with each other. They might as well make the best of it. That’s precisely what the recent proposals propose to do.

For those of you who support the current initiative, I’ll throw out a challenge: what can be done to move this forward? The PSP have been great on the issue, and Hizbullah will likely continue to be supportive provided they don’t decide to prioritize their alliance with the FPM. Support within Amal and Future is, I suspect, a little more uneven, despite the positions taken by Berri and Hariri in parliament. Finally, for this to really go forward, it is important that at least some of the concerns put forward by the Christian parties be addressed, and–if at all possible–the reformist coalition expanded. How? Does anyone have any concrete, actionable ideas?

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Discussion

89 thoughts on “Palestinian Rights in Lebanon: Reform on the Way?

  1. Elias,

    Lebanon’s political system seems to be maturing , open debate in parliament is the way to go and giving the Palestinians basic rights without the right to vote should not change the political system in Lebanon , i agree that a discussion should take place to change the religious nature of the election in Lebanon ,

    Posted by Norman | June 16, 2010, 11:12 pm
  2. Are we witnessing a historic democratic turning point in Lebanese politics? The E transactions law is to be reviewed by the committee that should have had it from the start and allowing the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to claim what has always been intrinsically theirs might finally pass. If not know then when? There isn’t much to add about this subject except to reiterate what was said yesterday: :I would hope that enough votes will be able to make the distinction between human rights and tawteen so as to wipe this shameful blot off the Lebanese society once and for all”.
    If for any reason this effort fails to garner the required votes then there ought to be a law that would allow us to recall each and every one of the naysayers on the ground that they are not allowing the Lebanese state to fulfillits international obligations.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 16, 2010, 11:39 pm
  3. You’re more optimistic than I am, I’m afraid…

    I hope I’m wrong.

    Posted by sean | June 17, 2010, 4:29 am
  4. If it is a toss up between banning Skype and giving Palestinians more rights in Lebanon, I am throwing my computer and headset out of the window tomorrow!

    Let’s be honest its unlikely that the Lebanese parliament could make two enlightened decisions in the space of a month.

    Any takers?

    Posted by The Medlar | June 17, 2010, 4:56 am
  5. Can someone please tell us what the draft proposals were?

    Posted by A Purple Monkey | June 17, 2010, 7:43 am
  6. Basically they proposed giving the Palestinians the right to work and own property in Lebanon

    Posted by mo | June 17, 2010, 8:40 am
  7. I am wondering whether they will give them those rights without stipulation of closing down the terror camps that they have scattered all over Lebanon. I think in the end it should be done in a packaged deal!

    It is incessantly stupid to allow a terror camp to exist in Naameh whereas they can intimidate Lebanese citizens at will while asking for rights!

    I wonder whether keeping terror camps are part of their civil rights?

    Let’s cover all the bases and not the narrow two bit soundbites!

    They should get all the rights to live in civil and dignified manner onl; and only if they lay down their guns and hand over all those wanted criminals that fester in those camps!

    Posted by danny | June 17, 2010, 9:16 am
  8. How is it in anyones mind that giving Palestinians the right to own Lebanese property is not like giving them the right to live in Lebanon?? How??

    I see a new civil war. They caused the first one, and thus debate is causing it again. Give them rights to live in decency yes, but NOT ownership! No way In hell!!!

    Israel is having a blast!

    Posted by No ownership to refugees | June 17, 2010, 9:30 am
  9. And how would any Kebanese accept to give them ANY rights before they hand in their weapons? This is madness!

    Posted by No ownership to refugees | June 17, 2010, 9:32 am
  10. No Arab state have given them such rights? Why should we make these HUGE concessions?
    Sure Lebanon is seen as more civil, and open society, but you can’t screw us over because of that.

    Posted by No ownership to refugees | June 17, 2010, 9:34 am
  11. I do see Israel enjoying this, and I do agree that any Non-Lebanese holding weapons in Lebanon would somewhat be called as Occupiers.
    It also infringes on Lebanon’s identity. 400’000 for a population of 3.5 million is a big percentage.

    Posted by Michel Assawi | June 17, 2010, 10:17 am
  12. This law will never pass as both Aoun and Hizballah are against it. But its nice that it is even being discussed.

    Posted by AIG | June 17, 2010, 10:24 am
  13. Let’s stop the histrionics shall we? I guess the US does not have a monopoly on the John Becks of the world.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 17, 2010, 10:40 am
  14. Israel is not “enjoying” this because Israelis really do not care what the status of Palestinians in Lebanon is. And is it not humiliating for you to decide what is best for Lebanon based on what Israelis think? Why should you even care about that. If you think it is not in Lebanon’s interest to give the Palestinians rights just say so. Why bring Israel into the mix?

    Here is an idea for the liberal Lebanese who want to actually do something instead of talk. Why not find a few lawyers that would be willing to buy property for Palestinians in their name, thus putting the law to shame? As part of this transaction, there would also be an agreement in the jurisdiction of another country clarifying that the lawyer is holding the property until the law changes in Lebanon and in the meantime the Palestinian can use it as he pleases.

    Posted by AIG | June 17, 2010, 10:42 am
  15. I’m not a fan of Jumblat, and support some of the MPs’ apprehensions regarding the “double urgency” nature of the proposed law (if that is indeed the nature of their apprehensions). But if the “Lebanese Right’s” arguments are just as those presented above by danny and ‘No ownership..’, then Jumblat was spot on in his remarks.

    danny,
    The vast majority of Palestinian refugees has no connection whatsoever with any armed groups. Those armed groups are less concerned with the plight of the refugees than they are with satisfying the regional powers controling them (such as Syria with Ahmad Gibril’s gang, and Saudi with those present in Ain El Helwe). How will giving the refugees civil rights have any positive impact on these groups? If anything it will decrease the number of Palestinians who find themselves forced to join their ranks in order to secure some amount of money to support their families.

    No ownership…,
    “How is it in anyones mind that giving Palestinians the right to own Lebanese property is not like giving them the right to live in Lebanon?? ”
    Umm, they are living in Lebanon. Maybe you mean owning property is equivalent to becoming full-fledged citizins (Tawteen)? I don’t really see the connection here. Does every non-Lebanese that buys property in Lebanon become a citizen?

    I haven’t yet heard a proper argument that justifies denying civil rights to the Palestinians in Lebanon. They are all feeble attempts at hiding sectarian and racist prejudices.

    Posted by mas | June 17, 2010, 11:01 am
  16. But these rights are NON-NEGOTIABLE and INALIENABLE; regardless of whether a group of hoodlums with guns happen to be Palestinian you don’t collectively punish the rest of the community.

    Rights by definition cannot be bartered. And collective punishment is just a racist carry on of the ‘Kharabou Baladna’ fallacy that is spread around this country.

    Get real guys, the only time that the Lebanese (or anyone else for that matter) have ever listened/respected/taken into consideration/engaged with Palestinians since 1948 is when they have had a gun in their hand. It is of course no wonder that Palestinian violence continues to threaten in such an environment. The drafting of this bill is one of the first signs that Lebanese lawmakers are making steps to change this. For once we are encouraged not to see Palestinians (‘them others in those camps’) through the prism of violence, security, and demands but as actual human beings living in desperately difficult circumstances.

    P.S.

    And I am sorry to burst your bubble Ms. “No Ownership to Refugees” but giving someone the right to own property in Lebanon does not make them Lebanese. In fact I am pretty sure than those Europeans in Hamra and Saudis in Downtown would beg to differ.

    And by the way your good Arab friend Mr. Bashar al-Assad is performing a good deal better than this free and open Lebanon of yours when it comes to Palestinian rights.

    I think you should get out more.

    Posted by The Medlar | June 17, 2010, 11:14 am
  17. Well I will not be a bloody hearted liberal or hide behind accusations of racism. Palestinians are represented by “leadership” or “parties” that are all terrorist or armed militias. Starting from Fatah to Hamas etc. etc… It is these militias who represent the Palestinians and they are not just a few armed gangs!

    If it is so imperative to defend the Palestians rights of living in a humane manner; they have no one to blame but their leadership. Remember Abu aammar and “the Road to Jerusalem goes through Jounieh” comment?

    Sorry you have not convinced me that I as a Lebanese have to provide all kinds of rights to a group who has occupied vast parts of Lebanon whereas there is Lebanese state control and still flaunt the laws!

    You should all ask the ‘leadership’ in these refugee camps to hand over the killers of the judges and innocent civilians!

    So mas you would like us to forget about these terrorists and mafioso gangs and worry about their rights!

    Posted by danny | June 17, 2010, 11:41 am
  18. *”…Lebanon whereas there is NO Lebanese state control…”

    Posted by danny | June 17, 2010, 12:36 pm
  19. As Ghassan said “Stop the histrionics”.

    Civil Rights + Owning property does not equal citizenship.

    Other foreigners are allowed to own land in Lebanon. Saudis, Europeans, etc. That does not make them citizens, nor does it “upset the sectarian balance”. Stop with the misinformation and hypocrisy.

    And speaking of hypocrisy. How many here, speaking against granting these civil rights own property in the US or Canada? How many of you live in the US or Canada, without being citizens? How many of you work in Europe, or the gulf, without being citizens?

    Since I do, however, support the idea of a sovereign state of law and order. I do agree that the remnants of the Cairo accords should be equally scrapped. Meaning, the Lebanese government and its law enforcement agencies should have full control and sovereignty over Palestinian camps. Said camps should be weapons free too. This means they should be places for civilian refugees to live, under the rule of law. Not training camps for militias of any kind. NO military bases either.

    I don’t necessarily think the two issues should be “packaged” together, as they are legally unrelated. But I do think they should both be proposed and adopted simultaneously. And given that both civil rights and state sovereignty are intrinsic obligations. There really isn’t anything to debate or negotiate. The Lebanese government need simply say “Starting tomorrow, every inch of Lebanese territory is subject to the rule of law. And btw, Palestinians can now work and own property. Thank you very much.”

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 17, 2010, 12:54 pm
  20. No wonder that the Lebanese governments’ Hiwar is stuck at the starting point four and a half years after it has started:-) We seem to exhibit an uncanny ability to shout at each other, never to read what the others are saying and obviously never internalize the responses, maybe its in our DNA . But what is clear is that we are not having a dialogue otherwise why would everyone keep repeating the same points that have been made n times over the past number of threads?
    Yes, we do live in a shallow democracy and different individuals are entitled to their point of view and interpretation of events but if every one is to be totally rigid and unwilling to entertain different perspectives then why waste time on a dialogue? Although people are free to adopt a point of view no one has the right to create his/her own facts. The discussion is to be guided by certain sacrosanct principles.
    One of the most important concepts is the idea that a government, the Lebanese government in this case, is being generous by giving rights to a group, the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in this case. Nothing can be further away from the truth. Lebanon has a legal and a moral obligation not to withhold these natural rights since they are intrinsic. inherent inalienable. This is a crucial point that I have been making for years and I am glad that Medlar recognizes. This idea changes everything because it says that Lebanon is NOT giving away rights but not withholding access to rights that it has no business in withholding in the first place. Lebanon happened to be one of the countries that not only signed the UDHRbut one of its most important authors through the work of Charles Malek. The following is the operative clause in this case:

    Article 17

    (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

    As for the weak arguments that try to establish connections between civil rights and Cairo 1969 many have spoken to it and so I will not repeat that logically there is no connection between the two. Neither is there a connection between the civil rights and Tawteen and of course there is no connection between civil rights and fiscal burden.

    There is only one argument for maintaining the present structure. Exploitation, discrimination, xenophobia and bigotry.

    It is also ironic that often it is the same group of people who refuse to recognize the natural rights of the Palestinian refugees in l
    Lebanon but insist that the Lebanese refugees all over the world ought to have equal civil rights as all citizens in their host countries.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 17, 2010, 2:13 pm
  21. Danny,
    I don’t see the logic in your argument. You want to see an end to the militancy in the camps before you see an end to the camps? Surely though if you put an end to the camps then you end the militancy. If the Palestinians are given the right to live and work where they wish, they will no longer be entitled to the weaponry. As long as the camps exist, any attempt to disarm the Palestinians need not be met with violence but only with the words Sabra and Chatilla. Telling them to surrender the weapons as the Lebanese Army will “protect” them would be laughable.

    But if the law directly stipulates that in return for these rights, the Palestinians must give up their weapons, would you support it?

    No ownership to refugees,
    “they” did not “start it” and if you think they did you should do some more research on the subject

    Posted by mo | June 17, 2010, 2:37 pm
  22. I’m going to simply quote and repeat this for emphasis. :)

    End of discussion, really.

    [b]There is only one argument for maintaining the present structure. Exploitation, discrimination, xenophobia and bigotry.

    It is also ironic that often it is the same group of people who refuse to recognize the natural rights of the Palestinian refugees in l
    Lebanon but insist that the Lebanese refugees all over the world ought to have equal civil rights as all citizens in their host countries.[/b]

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 17, 2010, 2:39 pm
  23. mo,

    Why don’t you follow what I said. I did specifically mention in #7 that I am all for giving them their civic rights and making them honest tax paying residents of Lebanon contingent of them dropping their guns and assimilating into civil society. the camps will exist because that’s where they live! What’s your suggestion? Dispersing them?
    Also, I do not buy the BS that they need the guns to protect themselves! I guess that’s what they were doing in 70’s right? Before you mention Sabra and Chatilla; I’ll mention to you Saida and Soor and Achrafiyeh and all of Beirut! Please let’s not go there!

    Posted by danny | June 17, 2010, 3:18 pm
  24. Arguments can be made in favour of extending basic civil (not political rights) to Palestinians in Lebanon on a variety of humanitarian and human rights grounds. For me, frankly, those grounds are enough in and of themselves.

    However, quite apart from humanitarian arguments in favour of Jumblat’s proposals, a strong argument can also be made on Lebanese national security grounds.

    Can anyone seriously argue that the dangers of violent radicalism are somehow *reduced* by having 250,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon permanently poor, marginalized, and discriminated against? The Fateh al-Islams of this world thrive on the poverty of the camps. The impulse to improve Palestinian conditions (initially under the Siniora government, and now with Hariri supporting Jumblat’s proposed reforms) has been underpinned by the recognition that Lebanese security interests were better served by allowing the Palestinians more normal lives.

    Of course, the scarecrow of tawteen always gets raised at this point. The naturalization of Palestinians in Lebanon, however, has nothing to do with whether they can work or own property–it would require a political decision by a future Lebanese government to extend citizenship. That won’t happen, and in any case is constitutionally prohibited.

    Should arms be retained inside the camps? I would prefer not– I think they do the refugees far more harm than good. However, given political realities (and, for that matter, the interests of some Lebanese parties) the camps aren’t going to be disarmed soon. Consequently, it is pointless holding human rights hostage to the arms issue. It provides no leverage at all, and only makes the situation worse.

    Finally, it is not as if Palestinian refugees have anywhere else to go in the meantime. If and when a Palestinian state is established, then they’ll have the right and ability to repatriate, as well as whatever return might take place to Israel. In the meantime–tragic as it is–the Lebanese and Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon are stuck with each other. They might as well make the best of it. That’s precisely what the recent proposals propose to do.

    For those of you who support the current initiative, I’ll throw out a challenge: what can be done to move this forward? The PSP have been great on the issue, and Hizbullah will likely continue to be supportive provided they don’t decide to prioritize their alliance with the FPM. Support within Amal and Future is, I suspect, a little more uneven, despite the positions taken by Berri and Hariri in parliament. Finally, for this to really go forward, it is important that at least some of the concerns put forward by the Christian parties be addressed, and–if at all possible–the reformist coalition expanded. How? Does anyone have any concrete, actionable ideas?

    Posted by Rex Brynen | June 17, 2010, 3:55 pm
  25. The so-called “Christian parties” need to read this and the preceding discussions we’ve had on this subject and get their heads on straight.

    I am constantly amazed at how grown, well-educated men seem to drop everything and turn into blithering panicked idiots when this subject comes up.

    Is it so hard for Gemayel, Aoun, Geagea and the Lebanese christians at large to understand that granting civil rights has nothing to do with tawteen or citizenship? That it does not in any way reduce the standing or the numbers of the Christian community in Lebanon? Is it so hard for the Lebanese Christians to get past this mental block they seem to have when it comes to this subject? Come on!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 17, 2010, 4:35 pm
  26. Bad Vilbel: be that as it may, if this issue is to move forward it requires assuaging Christian concerns. Otherwise, not only will the make-up of the Lebanese parliament make it difficult to ever pass any reform legislation, but also the whole thing will degrade into a dysfunctional sectarian debate (as if Lebanon didn’t already have enough of those!)

    Of course, one could start in the very preamble of any eventual legislation with some reference to the unconstitutionality of tawteen… that might help.

    Posted by Rex Brynen | June 17, 2010, 4:48 pm
  27. Rex,

    I AM assuaging the Christian concerns.
    That’s my point.
    There is nothing to assuage because we are talking about different things. One side is talking about “civil rights” and the other is talking about “tawteen”.
    How many times do we need to repeat “Civil rights is NOT tawteen” to assuage those fears?

    NO ONE is saying anything about tawteen here. Except the Christians. No one has brought that up. Nobody used that word, or citizenship, or anything other than “right to work”.
    I’ll ask one more time: How many of these Christians work or own homes in Canada, the US, France or the gulf?
    Does their owning a house in Toronto or working in Dubai make them Canadian or Emiraty? Why do people insist on making that connection. It’s entirely arbitrary.
    Here, i’ll make a random arbitrary connection: “Giving the Palestinian refugees white socks means tawteen! Please only give them black socks!”

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 17, 2010, 5:08 pm
  28. “Does their owning a house in Toronto… make them Canadian..?”

    Given all the Lebanese who purchased homes in Canada for the purposes of gaining Canadian citizenship, that’s probably a very bad example to use ;)

    Posted by Rex Brynen | June 17, 2010, 5:14 pm
  29. danny,
    You ask “What’s your suggestion? Dispersing them?”

    But surely thats exactly what will happen if they are give these rights. They will no longer be cooped up in these camps and with the right to go and work and live where they want, in the medium to long term, thats whats going to happen.

    Re, the weapons Im not trying to convince you or otherwise that the weapons are needed for defense. I’m saying that this is the defense for having them and the Sabra and Chatilla massacres are to many people (though obviously not you) very emotive issues that can stop any attempt to disarm them.

    My point was not to compare who can claim the biggest massacre, but that by allowing them into society, you force them to follow the rules of society, including the impermissiblity of arms

    Posted by mo | June 17, 2010, 5:24 pm
  30. mo,

    I agree with you except just a question. What preceded Sabra and Chatilla? Did they not have their tanks and heavy artillery bombing Beirut? East or West for that matter? Did they not fight against Amal? I do not buy that horrendous massacre as an excuse! I still have pictures from the Damour massacre perpetrated totally by Palestinians!

    Here’s a quote from today’s Now Lebanon about the Palestinan gang fuelled; supported and incited by the Syrian Mukhabarat!

    “… statement issued by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) on Wednesday. The militant group, which has been allowed to operate training camps in remote (and some not-so-remote) parts of Lebanon for decades, declared that what it called “all sleazy attempts” to disarm Palestinian factions in Lebanon had “failed” and, once again, cited its right to oppose Israel and protect Palestinians living in Lebanon.

    To read more: http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=178296#ixzz0r9GRZQpC

    Now you expect all to be nice and that things will be normal just because they get more “rights”?? In the meantime their armed militias roam the streets?

    Come on now! Let’s be realistic!

    Posted by danny | June 17, 2010, 5:36 pm
  31. Rex,
    To answer your challenge, the solution to this can only come from the Christian side and then from the ground up. Aoun has already pushed things to the limit with his alliance with Hizballah; He cannot possibly risk losing further support by supporting this.

    The fastest and most productive way to convince the Christian public would be through the clergy; And even then, it would probably take something like the Christian Palestinian Church to become involved in talking to their Lebanese counterparts to make any in-roads I think.

    The other solution would require a well funded and well resourced marketing campaign that would highlight the concerns of the Christian population and hopefully convince enough that they are unfounded (possibly something along the lines of the figures Ghassan has on the benefits of immigrant populations). The campaign would also have to address the historical grievances I think as I doubt this an insubstantial part of the equation.

    Posted by mo | June 17, 2010, 5:37 pm
  32. Danny,
    I am not disputing your version of events or portraying the PLO as nice guys – But you are talking about a large group of people of whom a good many have nothing to do with the militias. And giving them the right to work will mean even less having anything to do with the militias.

    Now in regards to the likes of the Front, and other armed elements, contrary to what they say, there has been no serious attempts to disarm them. If this law were to be passed, part of it I am sure would render Cairo null and void and on that basis these weapons and camps will no longer be allowed (especially if you are a joke like Popular Front). I think only the arms of the representatives of Hamas and Fatah would be a serious challenge but I also think that if Hizballah is seriously on board, they could be convinced otherwise.

    Posted by mo | June 17, 2010, 5:47 pm
  33. danny,

    I’ll repeat what i said before. The two matters are completely unrelated. But both need to be enforced.
    Ahmad Gibril’s gangsters have absolutely nothing to do with the right for Palestinians to have jobs or homes in Lebanon.

    On the other hand, the way to address the matter of Palestinian weapons is to simply say “This is Lebanon. Your camps are part of Lebanon. End of story. You break the law, you’ll get arrested.”

    It has nothing to do with civil rights.

    This language in Gibril’s statement is patently false from a legal standpoint:
    “…once again, cited its right to oppose Israel and protect Palestinians living in Lebanon.”

    There is no “right to opposte Israel and protect Palestinians living in Lebanon”.

    While Ghassan’s point about human rights being intrinsic and inalienable is 100% correct, the right to protect Palestinians or oppose Israel is NOT intrinsic. It is a privilege granted in 1969. And it can be taken away. End of discussion.

    The problem here is that while people like Ghassan and myself operate in the realm of international law, human rights, and the rule of law within a sovereign nation, much of the Lebanese and Palestinian society operate on an entirely different plane of existence and I can pretty much see these statements I make going over the heads of a lot of the so-called “public”.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 17, 2010, 5:53 pm
  34. Danny:

    Regarding the PFLP-GC, let’s treat them like the marginal nobodies they are. They have no significant Palestinian popular support–they’re kept alive with Syrian guns and money. Heck, their total armed strength in Lebanon is probably smaller than my first year poli sci class…

    Posted by Rex Brynen | June 17, 2010, 5:57 pm
  35. BV,

    I understand your point. However; as Rex eluded to; addressing the Palestinian plight without addressing the concerns of the Christian LEBANESE is insane! Lebanon is sectarian. Druze have patched up with Syria. the Shiites have their own private army. The Sunni’s are counting on using the palestinians if needed (civil war ring a bell?…It all started with the Kataeb against the palestinians…).

    There has to be a disarming of all palestina bandits to give those other LEBANESE their rights as well!!

    Posted by danny | June 17, 2010, 5:58 pm
  36. mo/Danny,
    I think for the sake of fairness we need to be reminded that the Cairo accords of 1969 were repealed by the Lebanese government in 1987( 23 years ago).
    Of course it is not natural for a state to allow uncontrolled armed presence on its territory but that is a question of failure by the Lebanese state and not an issue to be used to deprive the Palestinian civilians of what is rightfully theirs.
    Let us assume that the Iraqi government is totally opposed to say Sunni mitias then does that mean that they have the right to use that pretext to deny all Iraqi Sunnis their civil rights? Of course not.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 17, 2010, 6:04 pm
  37. Rex,

    In numbers you say…they have four armed camps in Lebanon. they handed over the nahr el Bared to Fatah el Islam! SSNP is a small group as well; however under the tutelage of Amal and HA they burned half of Beirut!

    Let’s be realistic here. HA is paying lip service to PSP right now; knowing real well when the time comes to delve into details; they will derail it! If Lebanon were a democratic and non sectarian and master of its own destiny all your comments will ring true! Now it is not. We can not act as an ostrich…

    Posted by danny | June 17, 2010, 6:08 pm
  38. Danny:

    It’s not clear to me what the ultimate Hizbullah position on this will be. On the one hand, they didn’t say anything when the FPM was trying to block reconstruction of Nahr al-Barid on archaeological (!) grounds. On the other hand, they’ve been very supportive in the past of efforts to improve Palestinian living conditions, and were part of the cabinet that approved formation of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee (http://www.lpdc.gov.lb).

    Posted by Rex Brynen | June 17, 2010, 7:17 pm
  39. Danny,
    HA paying lip service to Jumblatt? Seriously? Why?

    Posted by mo | June 17, 2010, 7:19 pm
  40. Great discussion guys.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 17, 2010, 10:37 pm
  41. I keep reading this;
    “Civil Rights + Owning property does not equal citizenship. Ask the Europeans and Saudis…”

    What are you people talking about? the properties owned by Europeans and Saudis are HOLIDAY houses and investment properties! they live somewhere else, and holiday in Lebanon!

    The Palestinians won’t be owning a holiday house! they are too poor, and the property they buy, is the property they will live in full time, and their sons and families will live in for ever!!!

    stop fooling urselves by saying property ownership doesn’t mean citizenship! it’s is the golden entry door to getting the citizenship!

    I’m all for them getting their rights such as working visas and living permits and all rights that western countries give to refugees (i’m from australia, and refugees that don’t live in camp are giving working visas). but here in australia, it’s controlled so no refugee takes a job from an australian who’s paying taxes.

    I’m also sick of hearing pple accusing christians making it sound like christians are the only ones who think of ta2ef, and talking about “assuaging the Christian concerns”. Thats BS! coz it’s not just the christians, when you DONT have a country where 99% of Sunnis vote for Hariri, and 99% of Shiites vote for Hizballah, and Berri, then come and preach about Christian fears.

    anyways, great post.

    Posted by Simon | June 18, 2010, 4:01 am
  42. Simon,
    there are people all over the world that own property and live in that property in countries other than their own. These people are residents not citizens. Ie they can live and work and pay taxes but cannot (theoretically) act or influence the political sphere.

    Any law that would allow the Palestinians the right to live in dignity will, be assured, include many checks and balances to ensure they never become citizens if only to alleviate the concerns of those opposed.

    You may be sick of hearing about “Christian concerns” but unfortunately your issue with it does not change the fact that the parties that rose up against this bill were the Christian ones – And it is the Christian sector of society that is mostly concerened by the Palestinians. We do not talk of “assuaging Christian concern” as a criticism or a sense of preaching, but out of respect (and btw, you will find many of the posters on here are Christians). It is because we all appreciate that such a law is pointless without the support of most Lebanese, and therefore even if the law could be passed without Christian support, it should not until the Christian community has agreed to it.

    Posted by mo | June 18, 2010, 7:08 am
  43. mo,

    Do I have to explain to you how the Lebanese political foreplay works? …On that note WJ visited Emile Lahoud today! Do you want to ask why?

    Posted by danny | June 18, 2010, 7:36 am
  44. Rex,

    Exactly! It is dirty politics and posturing as usual by HA. their politics and goals are more regional oriented than local. Their armament has (did…may2008 and Doha)given them all the counterweight they need. HA has to come along as a champion of Palestinians’ cause to perpetually redifine their “cause” and “struggle”…

    Posted by danny | June 18, 2010, 7:42 am
  45. @Mo, i have to say u got me thinking about the residency thing… valid argument my friend.

    As for the Christian parties, the way this happens is that other parties agree knowing that the Christians will oppose.

    Anyways, I would really like to read a copy of the proposal, and they aren’t being reasonable, then the hell with them. The palestenians deserve their rights and in my opinion, it will bring security to lebanon.

    Posted by Simon | June 18, 2010, 10:32 am
  46. danny,

    You have a very simplistic view of the camps’ situation in Lebanon. You ignore how dependent the Lebanese armed forces are on the “official” Palestinian forces inside the camps to keep things under control. Not one party has pleaded in favor of taking away light arms inside the camps from Fateh and Hamas. Better them handling Isbat El Ansar and Jund El Sham then the Lebanese army. Civil rights aren’t a bargaining chip. I’m all for the Lebanese army being able to tell Fateh and Hamas that it can handle the camps now. But that would be much easier when the situation in the camps becomes better, when a young Palestinian refugee has more career choices than either becoming a grocer or a barber, or a militia man.
    What I’m asking for is one argument clearly showing that Lebanon as a whole and in the long run is better off denying Palestinians their civil rights. Haven’t got one yet.

    Posted by mas | June 18, 2010, 10:48 am
  47. Ok. WTF? Anyone else raise an eyebrow when reading the following story?

    “100,000 Iraqi Refugees to Be Resettled in Lebanon, Elsewhere in Mideast”

    http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/newsdesk.nsf/Lebanon/58EF54F1FE0DC644C2257746003DF4C0?OpenDocument

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 18, 2010, 12:45 pm
  48. I love how the headline has nothing to do with the story.

    Those refugees aren’t being resettled in Lebanon. Indeed the “100,000” isn’t even the number who have been resettled. Instead, it represents the number who have been referred by UNHCR for potential resettlement (many of whom are awaiting a third country to accept them).

    As the article notes, most of those who have already been resettled in third countries (76%) have gone to the US.

    Posted by Rex Brynen | June 18, 2010, 12:54 pm
  49. Yup. That was pretty funny to me too.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 18, 2010, 1:29 pm
  50. mas,

    Look who’s the simplistic apologist…If that makes you happy then good for you. That’s how the whole country is gone to the terrorists!
    Tell me mas; does any arab country have the same “problem” that you mention in their camps? Do they allow them to carry arms in full view of the army and even dare to clash with them? How about the civil liberties of Lebanese? Can’t they enjoy their country in a safe environment? I think you are picking and chosing whatever “suits” your reasoning. there is NO justification ; reasons or excuses why the palestinians should have arms in Lebanon…NONE!!

    Respectfully!!

    Posted by danny | June 18, 2010, 3:03 pm
  51. danny,

    I was just stating things the way they are. I’m not supporting any Palestinian political party or group, but the fact of the matter is that the Lebanese army is too weak to insure security inside the camps. It is sad but it is a fact. That’s why everyone at the dialog table talked only about the “arms outside the camps”.

    Fateh and Hamas are currently quite cooperative with the army on many isues. In some ways, without them you’ld have Nahr-el-Bared scenarios occurring quite more often. They are terrorists, just like PSP, Amal, LF, Kataeb, Mourabitoun, Hizb, SSNP, (etc.) and all other warring parties that used to target civilians during the war. And just like those parties, they are now just additional actors on the scene.

    Ideally, there shouldn’t be any weapons inside the camps. The army should be able to control the situation on its own. But how do you propose to enforce all this? Ideally the camps shouldn’t be impoverished ghettos in the first place. How will giving a Palestinian the possibility of leaving the camp and having a decent job not make Lebanon safer? I see you are still unable to answer that question.

    Posted by mas | June 18, 2010, 4:18 pm
  52. Danny,
    I hate to repeat the same things that I mentioned yesterday. The arms in the camps are a major issue but it has nothing to do with not withholding civil rights from the refugees.
    Remember that Lebanon signed the Cairo Accords in 1969 which allowed the arms but then in 1987 Lebanon repealed the Cairo accords but has not enforced it right to move into the camps. This is simply another example of a failure of the state and must not be used as a fig leaf for acts of bigotry, and discrimination.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 18, 2010, 4:33 pm
  53. Rex Brynen argument in favor of giving Palestinians in Lebanon a bit of their rights resembles that of the rabid Zionists in the West when it comes to the need for a Palestinian “state.” Rabid Christian Zionists in the West and in successive US administrations, including that of the White Man president Barack Obama, advise the rabid Zionist Jews in Occupied Palestine that it is in their interest to have a Palestinian “state” on Palestinian land occupied after June 1967 with some additional arrangements (land swap, etc.). That’s what the rabid Zionist John Kerry restated recently on the Charlie Rose Show. According to those rabid Zionists, it is also for the security of “Israel.” No one talks about the rights of the Palestinian people and its interests per se. But what one can expect from discussions among rabid Zionists! So if it was for the interest and security of the colonial settler state, rabid Christian Zionists in the West can gladly –as they have been doing since the 1900s- accept the continuous killing and dispossession of the Palestinian by rabid Zionist Jews.

    Here comes Rex Brynen with the same logic: “However, quite apart from humanitarian arguments in favor of Jumblat’s proposals, a strong argument can also be made on Lebanese national security grounds.”

    Rex Brynen, who relished meeting Fouad Sanyoura while the Nahr al-Barid camp was being destroyed by the “brave” Lebanese Army and went out to defend him on the pages of the Middle East Report, writes that “The Fateh al-Islams of this world thrive on the poverty of the camps.” Well Rex Brynen, who seems to enjoy the company of those corrupt in power, wants to falsify the fact that the vast majority of Fath al-Islam members who went inside the camp were not Palestinians. Also, it was greatly documented on how Rex Brynen’s Siniora and co. have helped criminal elements under the guise of Fath al-Islam to enter the camp in full arms and to rent apartments in Tripoli and how some were liquidated by the so-called Internal Security Forces to cover up te whole story.

    What about Jund al-Sham in the Ain al-Helweh camp who are funded by Bahiya Hariri who admitted so in a phone conversation with Walid Junblat when she told him that Jund al-Sham (the Palestinians there call them Jund al-Sit, i.e. the lady’s soldiers in reference to Bahiya Hariri) are different from Fath al-Islam! This item was published in none other than the Hariri family rag al-Mustaqbal.

    It is laughable when Rex Brynen writes that “The impulse to improve Palestinian conditions (initially under the Siniora government…)!” What a great impulse that resulted in the destruction of the Nahr al-Barid camp and the forced evacuation of more than 30,000 innocent civilians!

    Posted by Jihad | June 18, 2010, 11:15 pm
  54. Jihad, try these simple logic games:

    QUESTION 1

    a) Palestinians should be deprived of basic rights until such time as the refugee issue is resolved in a just and lasting way.

    or:

    b) Palestinians should NOT be deprived of basic rights until such time as the refugee issue is resolved in a just and lasting way.

    I think (b). Unless you happen to think (a), we’re presumably in agreement.

    QUESTION 2

    (a) Giving the Palestinians basic non-political rights in Lebanon would both benefit the Palestinians and enhance Lebanese interests (including those of security).

    or

    (b) Giving the Palestinians basic non-political rights in Lebanon might benefit the Palestinians, but it would threaten Lebanese interests (including those of security).

    In this case, I would pick (a). If the actual answer is (b), that’s a shame–because unless you can articulate an argument for improving refugee conditions that is consistent with how Lebanese actors view Lebanon’s security interests, it will never happen.

    However, I do believe that you’ve likely achieved the record for the most uses of “rabid Zionist” in a single Qifa Nabki comment. Well done ;)

    Posted by Rex Brynen | June 19, 2010, 12:42 am
  55. It might also be useful to read Nayla Tueni’s commentary in Nahar the other day.

    http://www.annahar.com/content.php?priority=3&table=makalat&type=makalat&day=Thu

    Posted by Colin E | June 19, 2010, 1:34 am
  56. Rex,
    That is a masterful response.

    Jihad reminds me a lot of those that Chomsky spoke about in his last lecture at the UNESCO in Beirut. I wasn’t there but I know someone who was and if he is to be believed most in the audience felt uncomfortable when Noam Chomsky became critical of the efforts by many that simply make the advocate feel good but that fail to make any positive contribution to the Palestinian people.
    I hope that the above does not qualify me for the “rabid Zionist” moniker:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 19, 2010, 5:53 am
  57. How about those khomeinists with lice infested beards in underground residence? They qualify best as “Rabid” especially when they bark on TV about changing the face of the region in the next coming war! :)

    Posted by V | June 19, 2010, 9:53 am
  58. Rex and Ghassan,

    You are missing the point all together, seriously. Every logic system has its own axioms, basic theorems that are accepted without proof. For example you can prove something in Euclidean geometry that is just not true in a non-Euclidean one.

    Both your and Jihad’s logic are perfectly fine. Your axiom’s are just different. For example you believe that personal human rights trump national or religious objectives. Jihad thinks it is the other way around. You are Athenians, he is a Spartan.

    So naturally Jihad would answer A to Rex’s first question because he believes this deprivation helps the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim cause. As for question 2, giving rights to Palestinians hurts Lebanon’s interests as he sees them. He believes that Lebanon is part of the Arab and Muslim world and its interests lie in advancing the causes of all the Arabs and/or Muslims and not just the local Lebanese.

    So please, let’s not put the head in the sand. The problem is not a logic problem and will not be solved by logic. It is a problem of different fundamental beliefs that are the basis for each person’s logic.

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2010, 10:08 am
  59. AIG:

    Nicely put–except that I don’t quite hold the position that you attribute to me.

    I simply don’t accept your premise that individual rights and collective national interests are opposed in this case. The deprivation of the basic civil rights of refugees has no impact whatsoever on the prospects for a just resolution of the refugee issue–take it from someone who has been watching, researching, and involved in the refugee negotiations for almost two decades. Israel doesn’t, at the negotiating table, say “gosh, the Palestinians in Lebanon are marginalized, therefore they must be granted the right of return!” Granting the refugees employment and property rights would in no way undercut Palestinian bargaining positions (a viewed that is shared by Hamas and Fateh alike–which is why they both support the Jumblat proposals).

    On 2, you’ll have to clarify how Palestinian refugees living better lives somehow undermines the collective Arab interest–unless one subscribes to the “making the refugees miserable strengthens the cause” illogic that I addressed above. If that were indeed the case, perhaps we should be lobbying Jordan to strip Palestinians of citizenship, and for Syria to withdraw the support and many opportunities they’ve granted the refugees since 1948?

    Posted by Rex Brynen | June 19, 2010, 11:13 am
  60. Jihad, I dont quite get it – Are you anti the Palestinians getting home ownership and working rights or are you just anti Rex?

    Posted by mo | June 19, 2010, 11:15 am
  61. I don’t know why serious people bother answering comments that are hard to take seriously. :)

    If I wanted to listen to a speech heavy on epithets and lacking in substance, I’d go listen to any of our zajal politicians on TV.

    Seriously, does Jihad or others like him really think that adding “rabid zionist” and “white man Obama” to every sentence somehow legitimizes one’s argument?
    I remember being taught in school that the foundation of a solid argument is…well, logic and facts.
    If I want poetry, I’ll go elsewhere.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | June 19, 2010, 12:23 pm
  62. Rex,

    You wrote in comment 24:
    “However, quite apart from humanitarian arguments in favour of Jumblat’s proposals, a strong argument can also be made on Lebanese national security grounds”

    I assumed based on this that you supported Palestinian rights even if they were to be at odds with national interests.

    Whether in fact this is the case is far from clear. I understand your arguments but do not find them persuasive for the following reasons.

    Take for example the current international attention that the Palestinians are getting. It is directly related to the fact that they are perceived by the world to be suffering under the blockade of Gaza.

    Do you really believe that if most of the Palestinian diaspora would be living a comfortable middle class life, there would be much international support for the right of return? Would there be more or less pressure on Israel to accept the right of return?

    You are right that the economic status of the Palestinians does not directly influence Israeli negotiators, but you are mistaken in that it does influence the international pressure put on Israel. Therefore, I do think that the personal well being of the Palestinians is at odds with the chances of the right of return ever being implemented.

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2010, 12:33 pm
  63. AIG,
    I cannot help but add one more comment regarding your post about axioms.
    In general what you say is true; every position rests on axioms. But my answer to that is so what? There are some axioms that defy logic and science and therefore cannot be accepted or taken seriously.
    I am sure that this was not your intention but the logical conclusion of allowing each and every one to construct any theorem that they choose based on weak and illogical axioms is giving individuals carte blanch to do whatever they want whenever they choose.
    If I am to build a theory based on the axiom that there is no gravitational pull then I can solve so many of the the problems of flight etc… but such a theory is a joke and ought to be rejected.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 19, 2010, 12:53 pm
  64. Ghassan,

    Of course, choosing axioms that contradict laws of nature or each other will not get you anywhere. But what is illogical in the axiom that it is ok for people to sacrifice a lot for national or religious goals?

    Posted by AIG | June 19, 2010, 2:15 pm
  65. “I hate to repeat the same things that I mentioned yesterday. The arms in the camps are a major issue but it has nothing to do with not withholding civil rights from the refugees.”…

    Ok Ghassan; so you have armed militias in thousands flaunting the law and in your honest opinion the State of Lebanon should follow the ten commandments . Turn the other cheek as well? Should we give them silk linens and gourmet food daily while they do as they please.
    AGAIN; I am all for giving everyone civil rights! However it has been successive governments who presided over this injustice. Right now if I am in charge; I would say (unlike the spent force Jumblat; who did go along with this for close to 30 years)to PA or whom ever is in charge of the Palestinian camps: We have a situation here and we need to solve it. Let’s discuss cleaning up the mess and undoing the wrong!
    I will never give just keep on giving and not geeting anything back!
    On the contrary I would use this as the biggest bargaining chip without shame!
    It’s time we think what’s right for the state of Lebanon as well instead of working as an offshoot of a UN NGO!

    That’s just another man’s opinion!

    Posted by danny | June 19, 2010, 2:23 pm
  66. *sorry for the typo’s…

    Posted by danny | June 19, 2010, 2:31 pm
  67. Danny,
    There is nothing wrong in pursuing both goals simultaneously.
    Let us assume that the armed Palestinians are a different group than the other civilians in the camps . In that case the government can’t deprive the civilians from their rights if it chooses not to apply law and order on the rest. This is not purely hypothetical since almost half of the registered refuges in Lebanon do not live in the camps.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 19, 2010, 3:36 pm
  68. Bad Valavel,
    Go to Antoine Lahd’s “valavel” where you can get both logic, facts and poetry, with all the toppings!

    Posted by Jihad | June 19, 2010, 8:52 pm
  69. As’ad Abukhalil, Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    http://angryarab.blogspot.com/

    “Rex Brynen: on the Palestinians in Lebanon.

    I have just read the letter that Rex Brynen wrote to Middle East Report (last issue) in criticism of the article from a previous issue by Muhammad Ali Khalidi and Diane Riskedahl. Muhammad Ali did a fine job responding to the letter in the same issue but I want to say a few words. First, it is nice to know that Brynen feels strongly about an issue to prompt him to write passionately a letter to a journal: in defense of Fu’ad Sanyurah’s government and its war on the Palestinians in Lebanon. Second, Rex objected to the article because in his opinion Sanyurah government “has broken with more than half a century of Lebanese government policy in an effort to improve the living conditions of Palestinian refugees.” Is that a reference to the destruction of the Nahr Al-Barid camp? He wants us to give credit to the Sanyurah government for the effort? He may think that the displacement of the refugees (for yet another time) has represented an improvement in their living conditions of the Palestinians, but I will defer to what the Palestinians think in that regard and not to Rex’s opinions. A poll of the refugees was recently published, and people who work with the Palestinians (and not those who based their observations on the Palestinians on what Khalil Makkawi says) have a different counter story to tell. Furthermore, the Minister of Labor, Trad Hamadah, initiated the favorable changes on his own: and not with the support of the Sanyurah government as he himself told me. Successive Lebanese governments and the Syrian regime over the years did not want to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians in Lebanon, and Hizbullah did not say one word in protest. And the “reforms” of Trad Hamadah don’t go far enough. Third, he refers to the Israeli war on Lebanon as “the summer war.” I like that. You identify the aggression not by the identity of the aggressor but by the season in which aggression takes place. Very original–especially if you want to absolve Israel of responsibility for the crimes. Fourth, he blames the lack of changes in the plight of Palestinian refugees to the fact that the parliament has not met. Here, he simply parrots the line of Ahmad Fatfat. Let me understand your point, Rex: you are saying that Sa`d Hariri, Mustafa `Allush, and Antoine Zahra, were all planning on a complete overhaul of the plight of the Palestinians in Lebanon but the parliament has not met to legislate. Fifth, Rex is dismayed that the authors did not make a mention of the Hariri-appointed committee for dialogue. Oh, yeah. That will make a difference when it does not even include Palestinains. This is like when Ahmad Fatfat appointed a committee of officials under him in the Ministry of Interior to investigate the Marji`yun barracks’ scandal. Rex does not mention that the precious Khalil Makkawi is a mere functionary of the Hariri apparatus in Lebanon. Sixth, Rex invites you all to partake in his naivite–at best–in praising the Hariri-designated LPDC because they had a good link on their website. I kid you not–he actually said that. Very persuasive indeed. I invite Rex to visit the website of Ahmad Fatfat, and I guarantee that he will be impressed too: he will call it “unique” too. Rex should also be impressed to know that House of Saud has their own Human Rights Committee in the kingdom. Wow. How transparent. Finally, my favorite part. Rex denies the existence of a conspiracy. Why? Because he assures you that he met with Sanyurah and that no conspiracy was discussed in his presence. That clinches it for me, Rex. From now on, if I have doubts about a conspiracy, I will just ask you if a conspiracy was discussed in your presence. Also, let me guess: you were deeply moved by the Sanyurah’s tears in the “summer war”, were you not?”.

    Posted by Jihad | June 19, 2010, 9:12 pm
  70. For those who would like to know about “Fath al-Islam” and about the protection it got “Lebanese security forces” who are really on the payroll of the Wahhabi Hariri family can read the excellent in-depth articles that were written for al-Akhbar newspaper by the excellent Fida Itani instead of going to Beirut to sit in front of Fouad Sanyura and Khalil Makawi and the likes in the Wahhabi Hariri circles and then celebrate their “impulse” in favor of Palestinian rights that brought down the Nahr al-Barid camp. And here’s what Fida Itani wrote on September 10, 2007, under the title
    “Who decided to ‘liquidate’ the leaders of Fath al-Islam?”:

    . ويتجاوز عدد العناصر النائمة من التنظيم المئة، بحسب أكثر التقديرات تفاؤلاً، وهي تنتشر في أكثر من بقعة في لبنان، وصولاً إلى بيروت وصيدا وغيرها من المناطق ذات الغالبية السنّية. وتتكوّن النسبة الأعلى من المقاتلين من سعوديين وصلوا بغالبيتهم عبر مطار بيروت، إضافة إلى آخرين من اليمن والسودان وسوريا وروسيا والشيشان، مقابل نسبة أقل من اللبنانيين والفلسطينيين، وإن كانت النسبة الفلسطينية التحقت بأغلبها من خارج مخيم نهر البارد، وبعضها أتى من غزة.

    And he adds:

    على أن المجموعة اللبنانية تكوّنت بعد ملاحقة «جند الشام» في تعمير صيدا، وجرت عملية انتقال هؤلاء إلى نهر البارد بمواكبة عناصر أمنية رسمية. كذلك جرى إسناد المجموعة اللبنانية بوافدين جدد هربوا من حملة الاعتقالات التي نفذت في الشمال في شباط وآذار الماضيين، فيما لم تُظهر التحقيقات والمعطيات أن من بين أعضاء التنظيم من كان في إطار ما عُرف بمجموعة الضنية، ما عدا بلال المحمود المعروف بأبي جندل الذي قتله عناصر فرع المعلومات في أحد أحياء طرابلس.

    http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/46477

    Posted by Jihad | June 19, 2010, 10:00 pm
  71. “Bahiya Hariri clarifies to Walid Junblat”, May 23, 2007

    تلقى رئيس “اللقاء الديموقراطي” النائب وليد جنبلاط بعد مؤتمره الصحافي امس، اتصالاً هاتفياً من النائب بهية الحريري، اوضحت له فيه ان مجموعة “جند الشام” في مخيم عين الحلوة، لا تنتمي الى عصابة “فتح الاسلام”، وانها مختلفة عنها. وأبدى جنبلاط اهتمامه بهذه التوضيحات.

    Isn’t she nice and isn’t he a very understanding fellow!

    http://www.almustaqbal.com/stories.aspx?storyid=233482

    Posted by Jihad | June 19, 2010, 10:19 pm
  72. Hello,

    Really fascinating debate, thank you QN for opening it up. It would be silly to say that I agree with everybody – but contradictions sometimes complement each other. Here are my two cents worth:

    – For those of you who know the size and popularity of Rex’s classes, even half the size of his Pol Sci audience is a formidable force.
    – There is no doubt that the arms and security issues are the priority in terms of Lebanon’s interest in this matter.
    – This is precisely why the two issues of arms and rights should not be linked in any way. A “package deal” with such a quid-pro-quo formula would mean that armed factions take the credit for improvements and grow stronger. Also the ones with the most blocking power become the stronger too. It would be self-defeating from a Lebanese perspective.
    – The Palestinian refugee issue in Lebanon is one that touches on all our anxieties, taboos and phobias that accumulated over the last fourty years. I am not surprised at the intensity of the debate. But in the end these are primarily Lebanese issues and not only Palestinian ones. Lebanon should want to restore its own sovereignty, with the rule of law, be a country where civil and human rights are respected, where everybody lives in dignity and security etc… etc… We resolve the Palestinian issue for our own good reasons.
    – finally, I think sectarianism is too often in the eye of the beholder. I do not think that this is a Christian or Shiite or Sunni or Druze issue. There are people from all walks of life and all religious beliefs who are still trapped in the language of the civil war and there are others who have taken a step away from it.
    – This is not an abnormal phenomenon – it has taken over forty years for France to mention anything related to Algeria without decibels climbing up to much higher notes than this discussion has achieved.
    – Finally finally, there are purely technical issues of the impact of the new laws that need to be answered. There is very little reliable information to guide MPs and policy makers precisely because the whole debate about this on both Palestinian and Lebanese side has been emotional and using the language that would both harm and appeal most – like comparing Lebanon to South Africa, Alabama in the 1950s or even Israel.
    – Finally, honestly truly finally: This is not even a Lebanese vs Palestinian issue. The Lebanese are divided over it but so are the Palestinians. Palestinian divisions are as traumatic and as sensitive as the Lebanese but the Lebanese are way ahead in expressing theirs. Nobody talks of the 1st battle of Nahr el Bared in 1983 which was largely inter-Palestinian with Syrian topping – over 700 civilians died then with continuous bombardment for weeks on end. The camp was almost totally destroyed then and rebuilt in a makeshift patch-up manner. This and similar history from the war of the camps are too painful to think about – it is easier to blame the Lebanese for all Palestinian ills.
    – There ia a demonstration or march organized in support of civil rights for the refugees in Lebanon on the 27th of June. It is being boycotted by the Palestinian factions known as the “tahaluf” or coalition (the anti-Arafatists, anti-PLO and pro-Syrian ones) and there are many Lebanese participating in it.

    For those of you who have read this far – thank you.

    nadim

    Posted by Nadim Shehadi | June 20, 2010, 4:39 am
  73. Regarding the June 27 march that Nadim mentions above, you’ll find more information here:

    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=1&article_id=115459#axzz0rQbL61cy

    Posted by Rex Brynen | June 20, 2010, 4:46 pm
  74. Thanks Rex, note how in the DS article there is no mention of any boycott by the Palestinian organizations belonging to the Tahaluf or in other words the anti-PLO factions. One of the organizers told me that they already have over 30,000 people registered and that Hizballah is also withdrawing from the March in support of the ‘factions’. There are six days left and things may change yet again. I do not see how they can sustain this position.

    Posted by Nadim Shehadi | June 20, 2010, 5:37 pm
  75. To Nadim Shehadi – The Daily Star article was written (on day of official announcement of the event) much earlier before tahaluf finally decided to withdraw (on much unfounded grounds) and then hzb retreated after initially announcing participation and that in support of its alliance, quite inexcusable as well.

    Posted by lv | June 21, 2010, 6:47 am
  76. the Palestinian’s Civil Rights (which is in fact Human Rights)is something that has been trying to find its way to the light for the last 20 years and i guess this Law needs unfortunately more time :(. But what is very sure that such law will reduce the catastrophic situation in the Palestinian refugee camps and will reduce the poverty , violent acts and terrorist organizations…

    Posted by bahaafe | June 24, 2010, 3:56 am
  77. “But what is very sure that such law will reduce the catastrophic situation in the Palestinian refugee camps and will reduce the poverty , violent acts and terrorist organizations…

    …and barmeel khara wiam wahab said:
    “After meeting with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—General Command official Ramez Mustafa on Friday, Tawhid Movement leader Wiam Wahhab warned that the government’s failure to improve the living conditions in the Palestinian refugee camps could turn these camps into “terrorist dens”, the National News Agency (NNA) reported.

    Yup!! As I said before makes amazing sense; even Wiam wahab says so! Or threatens so!

    Posted by danny | June 25, 2010, 6:20 pm
  78. I have a question on an issue that hasn’t been brought up yet. What about the question of resources on the govt? Meaning, if you make all the Palestinians residents then how does the bankrupt Lebanese government support the influx of people? I recall that giving them social security was also on the agenda. How would this work from a budgetary point of view? It’s an argument given against giving Palestinians rights. So I would appreciate a discussion on this point…

    Posted by S | June 25, 2010, 7:37 pm
  79. The March for Palestinian “rights” is tomorrow and the split over it seems to be irreversible. The ‘tahaluf’ or pro-Syrian Palestinian groups are boycotting it including Hamas and so are their Lebanese allies like Hizballah, the SSNP etc.. Very interesting phenomenon and significant in that this is not about rights anymore but about who will get the credit for any progress on that issue. This is also dangerous because the whole process could also be blocked for reasons totally unrelated to the substance of the exercise. This is where the real problem lies in the internal divisions both Palestinian and Lebanese.

    Posted by Nadim Shehadi | June 26, 2010, 5:20 am
  80. Nadim #79,
    This is so disappointing but unfortunately not surprising.
    The Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause have been used by various Arab regimes to promote their own policies no matter what are the repercussions on the Palestinian people.What a shame. If these different groups cannot get together to agree that it is time to let our acts reflect our words and that it is our duty and moral obligation to give access to the most basic of human rights then you know the level of commitment to the welfare of the Palestinians . The hypocrisy.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | June 26, 2010, 7:18 am
  81. The position of Hezbollah and Hamas is clear on the issue. From the list of those organizing the march, they are social and charitable organizations:

    http://www.safsaf.org/05-2010/eng/march_for_palestinian_civil_and.htm

    (Apart from Walid Junblat’s party. If one reads the Phallangist Boulos Nou’man’s memoirs one can easily discovers once again that Junblat is nothing than a hypocrite. Nou’man writes that during a secret meeting with Walid Junblat in 1979 “the Socialist [sic] leader surprised us with his frank talk about the Syrian role” and stated “that the Syrian danger comes in the first place, while the Palestinian danger comes second”! said: «فاجأنا الزعيم الاشتراكي بكلامه الصّريح على الدّور السوري»، معتبراً أنّ «الخطر السوري في لبنان يأتي في المرتبة الأولى، فيما الخطر الفلسطيني في المرتبة الثانية». ص. 265)

    And it is better to keep it this way instead of politicizing the march needlessly. But I heard that Haifa Wehbeh is willing to unleash her own fans who form a mighty force.

    Posted by Jihad | June 27, 2010, 2:08 am
  82. Azizi Jihad

    I think you need to find out more about the facts. It is not a matter of a benign ‘keeping a distance in order not to politicize the march’ policy. It is a declared and very political boycott of the March by Hizballah and its allies and for that matter all of Syria’s allies in Lebanon. Whether Junblat is a hypocrit or not is irrelevant, his party is taking part in the March and so are many political parties and Palestinian political organizations including even the Kataeb and the Lebanese Forces.You cannot hide behind these excuses.

    Posted by Nadim Shehadi | June 27, 2010, 4:17 am
  83. Jihad

    I don’t see Hizbullah and Amal listed on the website.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | June 27, 2010, 8:14 am
  84. For the Lebanese Forces to be present is a disgusting insult to all things to do with Palestinian Rights

    Posted by mo | June 28, 2010, 9:13 am
  85. Qifa Nabki,

    I stated that the position of Hezbollah and Hamas is clear regarding this specific matter. As I see it, it is better not to have political parties present. In today’s issue of al-Akhbar, Bassam al-Quntar reports that the presence of some listed organizations was “on paper:”

    http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/195503

    I really don’t believe that Hezbollah needs to make a political gain out of supporting Palestinian rights in Lebanon (taking into account that he is trying not to give ammunitions to Michel Aoun’s foes). We must remember that during the war of the camps in the 1980s, Hezbollah helped the Palestinians and, along with Iran, was opposed to the war in Tripoli that pitted parties allied to Syria against Arafat’s Fath and the late Sheikh Sa’id Sha’ban Tawhid movement who was escorted out of Tripoli by a car sent by the Iranian embassy in Damascus. True, we must consider the context of the Iranian-Syrian dynamic concerning relations between Hezbollah-Amal, etc. But one can say that there were also altruistic intentions deriving from religious underpinnings. Has Hezbollah benefited from his early support of the Palestinians in regard to the good image he has among them inside and outside Lebanon (I am not talking about the Dahlanists here)? Yes, he has. Is it something wrong? No. Hezbollah must also swim against the anti-Palestinian racism in some quarters of the Shiite community that is part of the Lebanese folklore.

    Although I am fully with Hezbollah regarding the Mouqawamah, I disagree with his standing and handling of many socioeconomic and political matters and the empty statements made sometimes by his officials and MPs, notably Nawaf al-Mousawi.

    Posted by Jihad | June 28, 2010, 11:37 am
  86. Shared

    Posted by Gloria Saliba | July 3, 2010, 8:43 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: The Palestinian cause and women’s rights « the human province - June 24, 2010

  2. Pingback: Talking to Nadim Shehadi: Palestinian Civil Rights in Lebanon « Qifa Nabki | A Lebanese Political Blog - July 9, 2010

  3. Pingback: Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon: Caught Between Israeli Belligerence, Lebanese Sectarianism, & Regional Incompetence » Muftah - April 29, 2014

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