Palastinian refugees in lebanon in a tight spot

After syrian troop withdrawal, lebanon faces thorny problem of disarming militias

After the syrian troop withdrawal, according to un security council resolution 1559, there is still the "disarm all militias" in lebanon from. In recent weeks, the main topic of discussion has been the future of the shiite resistance organization’s weapons "hezbollah" which only last weekend again had some skirmishes with the israeli military at the occupied shebaa farms. Left out of the debate on the un resolution were the 400 or so refugees who had.000 palestinian refugees in lebanon. On the commemoration day of their expulsion in 1948, it became clear that their voluntary disarmament is not to be expected.

At the youth center of the shatila refugee camp, chicken with chickpeas, pita bread with spicy tomato paste and various salads were served. After the meal there was dancing and singing in the courtyard. "We do not want to give mourning, but hope", said olsad mahmud from the "palestinian women’s organization", who organized the culinary gathering to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the. Anniversary of the "al-nakba" ("catastrophe") who organized. "People should have spab and not cry", adds the woman laughing and visibly proud.

At the other events in the palestinian refugee camps, on the other hand, things were far more martial. Kalashnikovs and models of the al-aqsa mosque in jerusalem were carried through the streets, israeli and american flags were burned to remind the "disaster" to remember. In 1948, almost one million palestinians were expelled in the course of the founding of the state of israel. They fled to neighboring countries jordan, egypt, syria and lebanon, where some 400.000 palestinians living in 12 refugee ghettos under inhumane conditions. Electricity and water are limited, sewage systems are overloaded, camps are regularly flooded when it rains. The palestinians were not allowed to live outside the camps and do not get a work permit.

On the demonstrations of the last days the palestinians showed off their weapons as usual. These include not only machine guns, but also katyusha rockets, with which they repeatedly bombarded israeli positions and towns from sudlibanon. Provided, however, that they can slip past hezbollah’s posts unnoticed, which does not allow uncoordinated individual actions. The rough palestinian refugee camp of ain al-hilweh is about half an hour’s drive from beirut and resembles a fortress. The entrances are controlled by the lebanese military, but they do not enter the camp itself. Ain al-hilweh is not only home to fatha and hamas, but also to all other moderate and radical splinter groups. Among them are also islam-extremist associations that maintain contacts with al-qaeda. There are regular armed clashes between the palestinian factions. There is shoving in the streets or an attempt to blow up a rival party office with grenades.

The palestinians fear, to the "pawn sacrifice" of the peace negotiations between israel and the new palestinian government

At a campaign event for lebanon’s parliamentary elections, which will be held in a week’s time, walid jumblatt, the leader of the progressive socialist party, made the following plea for the lineup "palastinian brigades". Similar to jordan and syria, these brigades were subordinated to the army. "The brigades will then disarm all palestinians on the orders of the lebanese high command. This is the best solution", said jumblatt. But in order to join the army, the palestinians had to be given civil rights, which they had been denied for the past 50 years. Palestinians have not been able to participate in local or parliamentary elections, even though there are more than twice as many palestinians as druze, of whom 150.000 live in lebanon.

But the palestinian leadership does not want to know anything about lebanese nationalization or about giving up weapons, with or without brigades. At a rally, sultan abul-aynayn, the fatah commander in lebanon, said, "that the weapons of resistance are not a subject of negotiation". As long as there was no solution with israel and the right of return of all refugees was denied, as prescribed by un resolution 194, "our weapons are beyond any discussion".

An apodictic attitude, which does not fit at all to the "peace policy" by mahmud abbas fits. The recently elected palestinian president sent his minister to lebanon’s refugee camps last week. Abbas zaki explained that the weapons in the camps were certainly not used in internal lebanese conflicts. "But against guarantees we are ready to discuss disarmament." by guarantees, the algerian minister meant not only better living conditions for his countrymen, but also lebanese civil rights.

But just from such a compromise the refugees in lebanon do not want to know anything. They fear that they will become "pawn sacrifice" of the peace negotiations between israel and the new palestinian government. Since israel does not agree to the return of palestinian refugees, there can only be a peace treaty and an independent state of palestine if president mahmoud abbas renounces the right of return of all displaced persons.

In the refugee camps in lebanon, the inkling of this compromise is already a certainty everywhere, even if people are reluctant to talk about it. A possible return to palestine was and is for most of them the only glimmer of hope in a lebanese society that for decades has treated them as second-class citizens and banished them to ghettos.

The palestinians are protected by hezbollah, which has made the liberation of palestine its program and maintains numerous aid programs in the refugee camps. They are joined by the second armed shiite organization, amal, which is led by the lebanese parliamentary president, nahib berri. "We must defend the palestinian cause without any ifs or buts", abbas issa, a commander of the amal militia, said at a demonstration. "The palestinian resistance retains its weapons and the refugees retain their right to return to their homeland."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.