In the wake of recent outbreaks of violence in Palestinian refugee camps in the country, the Lebanese parliament is now considering a law that would reform the governance of these twelve camps, where most of Lebanon’s 450,000 Palestinians live. The public discussion over the bill, writes Khaled Abu Toameh, reveals much about Lebanese attitudes toward the Palestinians, and Arab attitudes more broadly:
The Lebanese security forces do not operate inside the [refugee] camps, which have long been the scene of armed clashes among Palestinian groups, including Hamas, Fatah, and Islamic State terrorists. Last month, the Palestinians reached an agreement with the Lebanese authorities to “demilitarize” the Mieh Mieh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, which was the scene of armed clashes among rival Palestinian groups in the past two years. The agreement allows the Lebanese army to operate inside the camp, home to some 5,000 Palestinians.
Yet not all Lebanese seem to be satisfied with the way their government is handling the issue of the Palestinians in Lebanon. Many fear that the new law to manage the Palestinian refugee camp is nothing but a disguise to “resettle” the Palestinians in Lebanon, thus tampering with the country’s demographics. . . .
The new law may be a sincere attempt to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians living in refugee camps in Lebanon. However, each time a plan is presented to improve the living conditions of Palestinians, whether in any Arab country or in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, conspiracy theorists immediately do their best to derail these efforts. The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership, [meanwhile], has called on Palestinians and Arabs to boycott the U.S.-led economic conference scheduled to take place in Bahrain later this month, . . . aimed at achieving economic prosperity for the Palestinians. . . .
The Arab states, for their part, hardly seem to care about the Palestinians. Otherwise, they would not have kept them in squalor in refugee camps, decade after decade. Lebanon says it fully supports the Palestinians in their fight against Israel—but would like to see them leave the country as soon as possible. This is the message Lebanon and other Arab countries are sending to the Palestinians: “We love you and we support you—and stay far, far away from us.”