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What's going on in Lebanon's Parliament this Summer?

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Meanwhile scores of Palestinians protested outside Parliament last week as Palestinian frustration continues to mount in the camps over delays in granting civil rights. Parliamentary Speaker Nabeh Berri's office when pressed for a statement whether Parliament would take action this summer on the various bills would only offer a one word response:

"Enshallah"

As a foreigner in Lebanon this observer has come to really despise the Arabic word "Enshallah'. True, it sounds nice enough and more likely than not it comes from lips with a smile, and the literal translation is good also: "God willing."

However in reality, it's a deadly and vicious expression that every guide book publisher on Lebanon has a moral duty to warn their readers about. For the real meanings of "Enshallah" are: , "probably not", "almost certainly not going to happen", "forget about it fool", or simply, "no way and go away!" So if one is presented with the response, "Enshallah', whether by the office of the Speaker of Lebanon's Parliament , or from someone you might be asking out on a date or trying to get something done in Lebanon, or tying to get civil rights legislation enacted into law, one has a big chance of being disappointed.

In Lebanon's Parliament, about the worst thing that can happen to a member's pet legislative initiative is to have it placed in "the Enshallah drawer," meaning it is set aside for "Enshalleh" consideration sometime in the "Enshallah' future, often never to be heard acted upon. Some fear this is what may happen to proposals to grant Palestinian refugees their internationally mandated right to work and to own a home.

Other reasons for Parliamentary delay?

Some Parliament watchers speculate that certain members seek to delay granting Palestinians civil rights until the Special Tribunal for Lebanon hands down expected indictments, concerning the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. They calculate the STL announcements will dramatically increase Lebanese-Palestinian tensions. Change and Reform parliamentary bloc MP Michel Aoun (Free Patriotic Movement leader), no advocate of any meaningful civil rights for Palestinians, is warning of a US "green lighted' Israeli invasion of Lebanon if the STL indicts "uncontrolled" Hezbollah members. Others claim the main problem is that Lebanon cannot move beyond the 1975-1990 Civil War and raising in Parliament the subject of Palestinians brings up also many painful memories that most of the confessions wish to forget.

While some political analysts in Lebanon think there is a chance that Parliament may well ease the restrictions on the right to work, there is still strong opposition to granting Palestinian refugees the internationally recognized right to own real property or even a single home--an international right allowed in all other countries. As a scare tactic on this issue the specter of "Naturalization' is again raised even though it has nothing to do with home ownership.

If Israelis can buy homes in Lebanon why not Palestinian refugees?

There is no shortage of Lebanese politicians who will explain why Palestinian home ownership is out of the question, including the claim that there is simply not enough land in crowded Lebanon for foreigners to be allowed to purchase any. Kataeb-Phalange bloc MP Elie Marouni told his followers on Bastille Day last week "that the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon will never be naturalized as long as there are Christian believers who will sacrifice themselves for the sake of Lebanon. We don't have the space." His colleague and Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel warned the day before that "granting Palestinians the right to own property would lead to their naturalization."

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Since 2013, Professor Franklin P. Lamb has traveled extensively throughout Syria. His primary focus has been to document, photograph, research and hopefully help preserve the vast and irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts in (more...)
 

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