RAMALLAH, Sept. 28 (JMCC) - For hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees living in the squalid camps of Lebanon, the current round of negotiations between the PLO
brings little hope of solving their interminable situation.
Lebanon, which is home to the most refugees outside of the Palestinian territories
, has also dealt most harshly with them, making integration and a semi-normal life in the country almost impossible.
This reality, coupled with the likely prospect of never seeing their original homes inside of what is now Israel, has left many Palestinian refugees turning to the most desperate means of freedom.
...The sense of despair is palpable. Drug use is rampant, and most refugees are unemployed and live on handouts from a United Nations agency. The camps – Ain al-Hilweh in particular – are breeding grounds for Islamist militants and a safe haven for criminals evading Lebanese law.Read
In August, the Lebanese parliament voted to grant greater employment rights to Palestinians, overturning a law that had prevented them from working in all but the most menial of jobs. But the new law still forbids them the right to work in top professions in Lebanon, such as medicine and law, and bans them from owning property.
Despite Lebanon’s perennially fractious politics, Lebanese from all backgrounds are united on one point: They oppose the concept of tawteen, the Arabic term for the settlement and naturalization of the Palestinians in Lebanon.
Granting citizenship to the mainly Sunni Palestinians would upset the delicate sectarian balance in Lebanon. The result is that the Palestinians in Lebanon are deliberately kept in conditions of squalor to discourage the possibility of permanent settlement here.
“Nothing has changed for the better in the camp. What was granted by the Lebanese parliament was already in place,” says Sheikh Jamal Khattab, the leader of the Harakat al-Islamiyyah Mujahidda, the “Islamic Strugglers Movement,” and the most influential Islamic figure in Ain al-Hilweh...
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