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Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations held on 29/10/2015 at its headquarters in Beirut a panel discussion discussing the “Future of Palestinians in Lebanon” with the participation of a select of researchers and specialists in the Palestinian issue.

The panel was moderated by Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh, al-Zaytouna General Manager, and it tackled the Palestinian refugees conditions in Lebanon and their suffering due to their deprivation of civil and human rights. It also discussed the impact of local, regional and international conditions on the Palestinian presence in Lebanon in the absence of a unified Palestinian leadership. What adds insult to injury is the Lebanese carelessness, which perceives the Palestinian presence within a security context, with total neglect of social, humanitarian and political aspects.

Interventions by participants stressed the need for a unified Lebanese-Palestinian vision and agenda to protect Palestinians in Lebanon from the repercussions of regional sweeping developments. There is a need to build Lebanese Palestinian mutual trust in order to form a safety net for both sides. Interventions also stressed the need for Lebanese-Palestinian relations to be regulated according to clear principles and laws while respecting human rights.

Participants also reiterated the need to form a unified Palestinian framework of reference that can follow up on developments and resolve ensuing problems. Thus, a reassuring internal Palestinian environment would establish a new stage based on serving Palestinians, protecting the Palestinian issue and achieving the right of return to Palestine.

As for the future of Palestinians in Lebanon, several scenarios were presented. The first scenario suggests the possibility of the explosion of the security situation in the Palestinian refugee camps due to current conditions there, or due to the disrupted Lebanese environment. This would lead to inter-Palestinian or Palestinian-Lebanese conflict causing a wave of emigration of a large number of Palestinians and the destruction of the Palestinian camps.

The second scenario suggests that a Lebanese Palestinian agreement may take place. It would give Palestinian refugees basic human and civil rights, especially the right to work where Lebanese labor market would absorb Palestinian labor force according to its capacity. Such a scenario would improve the Palestinian refugees conditions and positively impact the Palestinian situation while reducing the possibility of being dragged into external or unpatriotic internal agendas.

The third scenario expects the regional situation to impact the situation in Lebanon, which would leave both Lebanese and Palestinian arenas unable to face the repercussions. This would have a negative impact on the Palestinian situation, especially the refugee camps. It would ultimately lead to naturalizing a part of the Palestinian population, and displacing the other, thus negatively affecting the refugees issue and the right of return.

Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 3/11/2015