Recognizing the Palestinians’ Rights Does not Affect our Economy and Society
*Former Lebanese Minister and Deputy.
When we address the issue of electricity, which is draining the state’s finances, this same band would again blame it on the camps for not paying electricity bills!! Everybody holds the successive governments, especially the current officials, responsible for the scandal of darkness that covers the different Lebanese regions. The Lebanese people endure such injustice because of the fifty billion dollars wasted from the state’s treasury on electricity. Yet the country is not seeing a ray of light.
Today, many are those who want to help Lebanon, but they ask the Lebanese out loud: “Help us so we can help you.” Do what you have to do. Take the right reform decisions, especially those related to electricity”. Those in charge of the country care only about their own “factories”, in terms of possessions and costs. They delay making any decision and taking any advantage of the opportunities available. They canceled agreements already concluded with sister countries to restore plants. At the end of the day, some of them blame it on the Palestinians! Can a sane person accepts these unacceptable claims, accusations, and targeting?
We may talk about the socio-economic financial crisis that is causing Lebanon and the Lebanese people such hardship. We may negotiate with the International Monetary Fund. We may implore countries and international banks to help us, but no wonder no one has responded. We simply did not implement the requested reforms. We did not demonstrate that we have a fit state and wise officials capable of managing our affairs. We were not able to present unified figures for our financial losses, nor set our approach before the IMF. Instead, thanks to our political plots, we displayed all our nastiness before the world, exposing ourselves to insult and depriving ourselves of any help so far. Yet, we do not recognize our mistakes and responsibilities. But suppose our Palestinian brothers receive a small amount of money, in that case, the same band will flip out and launch campaigns against “depriving the Lebanese and honoring the Palestinians”! It is racism outright, on the lips of the ones acting for a modern state in Lebanon!
Let’s not abuse the term “neutrality”, very popular today. We assert that there is no neutrality regarding the Palestinian issue and the hostility towards Israel. The leading figures of the same band again, address the same discourse against the Palestinians. They turn to “the international community” and to the big countries, notably the United States, they do not neutralize Israel, but hold the Palestinians responsible for the whole situation! How strange! Have they ever asked themselves who does not want the Palestinians to return? Who supports Israel against the Palestinian people and supports its decisions and policies that aim to expel the rest of the Palestinians from Palestine? Aren’t we talking here about the American policy that some people in Lebanon are firmly relying on, while some others are trying to avoid the peak of its anger and “punishment”? As a result, they attack the Palestinians.
They are escaping forward, escaping liability for the situation in Lebanon. They are pulling away from the application of modest decisions previously approved by former governments. Only one official visit was paid by ministers to the camps to closely examine the situation—the suggestion was made back in the first government of former PM Fouad Al Saniora. It became a policy to escape facts and reality, including denying the latest statistics concerning our Palestinian brothers. The census that was conducted by two official Lebanese and Palestinian institutions under the supervision of the LPDC, which we commend for its responsible national role; this committee has constituted a framework and a safe space for a Lebanese Palestinian dialogue and discussion regarding the common concerns and the possible solutions. We will not stop calling for the recognition of the Palestinian refugees’ civil and human rights and insist that these rights do not affect our financial, economic, and social reality. The permanent rejection of these rights is just a cover for the empty rhetoric of Tawtin (settlement). We should emphasize that there is a sincere, unified Lebanese national standpoint that rejects settlement. Yes. Those who support the Palestinian people and have supported their cause believe in their right to return to their land. Those who, at some point, considered the Palestinians as enemies, and refuse to recognize their rights today, also want them to go back home. Therefore, all Lebanese refuse to naturalize the Palestinians in Lebanon. Furthermore, there are a consensus and a determination among the Palestinian brothers and all factions to uphold the right to return. At the same time, they are committed to cooperating and coordinating with the Lebanese state and all its institutions and to respect its decisions and sovereignty on its land. This cooperation was very tangible on several occasions when they faced together attempts to spark conflicts or use the situation in the camps for purposes that fall outside the Palestinian-Lebanese interest framework. There was a consensus among Palestinian leaders in the occupied land and here in the camps, to cooperate with Lebanon and its institutions, particularly the Lebanese armed forces.
The only way to ensure Lebanon’s interests in approaching the question of the Palestinian presence on its territory is through reason, logic, dialog, and to put this reasoning into action through the LPDC and the direct channels of cooperation between Lebanese political forces and Palestinian factions. Maintaining a discourse full of hostility, incitement, racism, arrogance, and bullying will only lead to more disintegration in Lebanon, weakness, and chaos that will harm both the Lebanese and the Palestinians.
Is there hope for sound reasoning? Unfortunately, what is going on in the country does not bode well. There is very little wisdom left. We live in a Lebanon controlled by instincts, bigotry, obsessions, emotions, tumors, and illusions. We became a country of grudges and problem making. Just look at the Lebanese abusive attitude towards each other, the decline in the level of political leadership, the low standards of political discourse. Note the amount of hatred, insult, accusations of treason, and all sorts of indictment prevalent on social media, which became, in fact, “anti-social media”. Do we expect after all that a better discourse towards the Palestinians?
Yet, the challenge is enormous. We are entrusted with Palestine and its people, as well as with the position of Lebanon and its unity, all of which deserve that we exert every effort, ignore any suffering, and never give up regardless of the current situation.
The events and factors affecting the equations running our region do not, regardless of their impact, prevail over the initial matter and the main reason for our crises, the existence of a terrorist entity in Israel. At the same time, most Arab states are incompetent, lack a strong will, and proper management of the conflict. Our main goal will always be Palestine. Israel wants all of Palestine and much more. The Israeli target bank has expanded to include the whole region. The enemy is now achieving significant parts of its plans. Those who are relying on the United States and are seeking their endorsement will get nothing in return.