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Op-ed in PA daily describes discrimination against Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, but reiterates refugees’ desire to “return to Palestine”

Excerpt of an op-ed by Hala Salameh

Headline: "Do not take things out of context"

"Call us refugees, said the Palestinians after they were expelled from their homes, and that is a truth that needs to be recognized today by anyone that wants to change the chain of events and facts since the Nakba(i.e., “the catastrophe,” Palestinian term for the establishment of the State of Israel) of 1948 and to this day. And if this is not so, why have the Palestinians not been given rights to work, dwelling, and the other humanitarian rights anchored in the international human rights regulations ever since they stepped foot in Lebanon? The Palestinian people has been treated as if it were a people sentenced to remain in a cycle of poverty and deprivation that it cannot escape until the time comes to return to its homeland…

In 1982, and directly after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, decision 189 was issued that prevented the Palestinians from working in 65 professions. In 1993, a decision was issued that increased the number of professions forbidden to Palestinians to 75, and this decision was renewed in 1995.

What the Palestinians are currently demanding is that they stop defining the Palestinian refugees as foreign and give them the full right to work on the basis of the refugee card and cancel the work permits, as they are residents until their return to Palestine, for which they will accept no alternative. The truth is that if the Palestinians had been enjoying their social and civil rights in Lebanon, they would not have refused the work permits.

The problem is that they connect all of the humanitarian rights that must be given to the Palestinian people with the issue of naturalization, and the Palestinians are forbidden to hold property out of concern of them being naturalized – as if all of the refugees that own real estate in Lebanon have renounced their motherland and thrown out their original identity…

The widespread protests in the Palestinian refugee camps against the steps taken by Lebanese Minister of Labor [Camille Abousleiman] (referring to new regulations making Lebanese work conditions for foreign residents even harsher –Ed.), which have harmed the livelihood and sustenance of the Palestinian refugees – come to remind international society and Lebanese senior officials of their obligations towards the Palestinians, and to spotlight the neglect from which they have suffered since their expulsion.”