I just spent the last hour and a half watching a fascinating webcast of a seminar on the Palestinian refugee situation in Lebanon. It was organized by the Aspen Institute, and featured Nadim Shehadi (former director of the Centre for Lebanese Studies at Oxford, current Associate Fellow at Chatham House, and friend of the blog) and Ghaith al-Omari (lead Palestinian drafter of the Geneva Initiative, former senior advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, and participant at the Camp David summit and Taba talks, etc.)
For those of you interested in both the situation of the Palestinians in Lebanon (see my thoughts here) as well as the refugee issue and the right of return, I highly recommend that you watch the entire thing. Here, though, are some interesting bits:
13:00 – Nadim discusses the complexity of any issue involving Palestinians in Lebanon, even something as trivial as “the width of a staircase…”
41:00 – Ghaith discusses “the bitter pill that the Palestinians will have to swallow when it comes to accepting a deal” on the right of return, which he says that the PLO has not prepared the refugees adequately to accept.
49:00 – Nadim explains that the bottom line for any final deal on the refugees is that it cannot make their situation worse than it is now, which is a very real threat.
59:50 – Ghaith discusses the various mechanisms (compensation, settlement in host countries, etc.)
62:45 – Firas Maksad asks about how the situation of the refugees might be improved, considering that this issue is seen by many in Lebanon (and manipulated by political actors) as the first step towards naturalization.