Property Ownership

Since its establishment in December 8, 1949, UNRWA was mandated with the duty of providing shelter and services to Palestine refugees. For this purpose, the agency established a number of recognized camps dispersed in all Lebanese Muhafazat, in order for the refugees to reside therein, among other services provided to the refugees.

The consecutive laws on the right of foreigners to ownership, applicable to Palestinian refugees being Arab nationals, have allowed the latter the right to own built real-estates, or real-estates dedicated to construction. The surface that may be acquired by a non-Lebanese varied according to the Law, from a maximum of 3000 square meters in Beirut to a maximum of 5000 square meters in the remaining Muhafazat. This was the case until the Lebanese parliament ratified draft law 296/2001 issued on April 3, 2001, containing an amendment to the law implemented as per decree no. 11614 issued on January 4, 1969, (Acquisition of Real-Estate Rights by Foreigners in Lebanon).The amended article 1 now stipulates the following:

“No non-Lebanese person, whether natural or legal, and no Lebanese person deemed by this law as foreigner, shall be allowed to acquire, by contract or any other legal act, any real estate right on Lebanese territory or any other of the real rights specified by the present law, before obtaining a prior authorization issued by the Council of Ministers upon motion of the Minister of Finance. No exceptions shall be made to this law, unless in specific situations explicitly provided for by this law or in a specific text.

All forms of real estate rights are forbidden to any person who is not holding a nationality of a recognized state, or any person in general – should the ownership be nonconforming to the provisions of the Constitution in terms of rejecting permanent settlement (Tawteen).”

Current Situation and Numbers Content

One of the persistent and practical problems in relation with the new ownership law 296/2001 is the abstention of land registrars to register concluded sale agreements that were not registered at the Registry and Cadastre Offices, right after the issuance of the law and its publication in the Official Gazette. Moreover, the public notaries abstained from executing sale agreements for Palestinians, according to a non-binding opinion issued on June 19, 2001 by the Legislation and Consultation Committee, bearing the no. 394/2001.

With regard to the inheritance issue, contrary to all rumors that were circulating amongst those who workin the Palestinian legal and civil field, and after an examination carried out by the LPDC, it was verified that the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre in the Ministry of Finance automatically registers the transfer of ownership to the names of the heirs right after the decease of a Palestinian, without any conditions or requirements, provided that the transactions meet all the legal conditions and procedures.

Additionally, there is the political problem represented by Lebanon’s recognition of the Palestinian Authority and its acceptance of passports issued by this authority, as well as the opening of the Palestinian embassy in Beirut as of 2008. Consequently, Palestinians are holding the citizenship of a recognized state that is a non-member observer state at the United Nations.