Neither of these leaders, has explained why during the half century (1948-2001) when Palestinian refugees were allowed to own property the question of "naturalization" was never an issue. There was no problem. The fact is that the assertion that "naturalization' would be the result of a refugee family owning a home is false and it is was invented solely for the reason that it provides "raw meat' for detractors who basically don't want any rights for any Palestinians no matter what the facts are.
According to Lebanese Human Rights Ambassador Ali Khalil: "Fanning the coals of "naturalization' is a recent bogeyman meant to scare Christians who already are nervous because their numbers continue to shrink. Generally more affluent than other sects, they are able to leave Lebanon for better prospects. If Palestinians were able to work and became a bit more affluent many of them would leave also but that fact appears lost on those who prefer to keep them in squalid camps in Lebanon rather than allowing them to work and perhaps move out of Lebanon."
The "not enough land for foreigners" claim is faulty on two grounds. Regarding population density, in Saida's Ein el Helwe Camp, the largest of the 12 in Lebanon, approximately 90,000 refugees are tightly packed into less than 1 km sq. area whereas the average Lebanese population density is close to 350 persons per sq, km.
Foreigners buy as much land in Lebanon as they wish and can afford despite the "legal' limitations for foreigners of 3,000 sq. meters in Beirut and 5000 sq. meters outside Beirut. Foreigners regularly ignore the "law" and sometimes pay bribes to purchase whatever land they want and sometimes even citizenship.
Patriotic Movement leader and Hezbollah ally MP Michel Aoun is calling for a new law to reclaim property
from foreign owners in response to complaints about his voicing strong objection to granting Palestinian
refugees in Lebanon the right to own property.
"We can't issue a law that gives the Palestinians the right to own property, but we can issue a law to reclaim properties owned by foreigners," Aoun said with a straight face, adding that "Christian parties didn't act with prejudice when the issue of civil rights for Palestinian refugees was raised. "Our stance is similar to that of the Phalange Party and the draft law would only be put to the vote of the parliament after being studied," Aoun added. Some in Lebanon are waiting to see if General Aoun's "No buying a little bit of Lebanon" law gets introduced in Parliament and what the US Congress and Arab league reaction will be if it does.
BayIt BeyLebnan? (Hebrew for "your home in Lebanon?')
The Israeli-American Likud banker and warmonger Irving I. Moscowitz, financial backer of the archeological tunnel in east Jerusalem and supporter, financially or otherwise, of virtually all Zionist groups developing stolen Palestinian land including his own properties in Maale Adumim, Har Homa in Palestinian east Jerusalem and Beitar Illit is claimed to have moved into the real estate market in Lebanon.
Regarding occupied Palestine, Moscowitz has for years advised would be investors, (ignoring the Geneva Conventions and settled International law) at Jewish only "real estate fairs" in American and European Synagogues : "Your investment is insured, protected and 100% legal. You should consider strengthening your portfolio and Israel's future!"
Moscowitz is said to expect competition for Lebanese land from Lev Leviev, who the NYT refers to as "the missionary mogul". Leviev, now the world's largest cutter and polisher of diamonds, also specializes in illegal real estate developments on stolen Palestinian land. Leviev's , Leader Management and Development, is currently building the settlement of Zufim on Palestinian land in the illegally occupied West Bank. When asked recently by Ha'aretz Daily if he has a problem building on expropriated Arab land he replied,"For me, Israel, Jerusalem, Lebanon are all the same."So are the Golan Heights. As far as I'm concerned, all of Eretz Israel is holy. To decide the future of Jerusalem? It belongs to the Jewish people. What is there to decide? Jerusalem is not a topic for discussion."
Both tell associates that with their American partners, they are moving into the Lebanese real estate market which they find attractive. If true, Lebanon's Parliament might want to consider using some of the extra time they have extended themselves this summer, currently being devoted to sounding the Chicken Little - 'sky is falling' alarm about Palestinians wanting to exercise their internationally mandated civil right to own a home pending their return to Palestine. Parliament should investigate claims that "American" companies", some with 100% Israeli stockholders are buying up Lebanese land and using bribes to avoid Lebanese law.
"Darwish', a school teacher in South Lebanon explained this week what many Palestinians feel:
"My family home and property were stolen by Zionist thugs in Akka in 1948 and also our cousin's home outside Jerusalem. If you look at the current advertisement in Israeli newspapers, ("Darwish shows a copy of an ad he printed off the internet from Haaretz.com that reads, "Own a little piece of Switzerland" which describes a quaint Swiss like scene, and it shows a bucolic vista that Darwish claims was his family's village, now a Zionist colony.) so you see this is my problem. In Palestine our home was stolen and in Lebanon I cannot own one. Worse than this, it bothers me and my family that Zionists can now sell my land in Palestine to foreigners while as a Palestinian in Lebanon I cannot buy a temporary home. Israelis can invest their profits from our stolen Palestinian land and they can build homes in Lebanon and sell to other foreigners, but Palestinians can't buy a home here. We have heard that some of the same "American and European" companines that sell our Palestinian land to foreigners in Palestinian now operate in Lebanon. One "American" company is reported to have 11 stockholders. All of them Israelis".
Parliament appears to be playing the Palestinians this summer, as well as playing the international community that expects more courage, compassion and respect for international human rights from a gifted people. Parliament risks degrading Lebanon in the process and its leaders should schedule a straight up vote without further dilatory tactics such a "more study" and "building near unanimous consensus" that appears designed to produce the lowest common denominator which means that without political will and courage it will likely produce not much at all. Regarding six decades of annual calls for "more study of this sensitive problem' there are already more than 30 studies completed just since 2000. They unanimously conclude what nearly every ten years old in Lebanon understands needs to be done and that is to grant the internationally mandated right to work, to own, inherit and bequeath a home, and access to some social security protection without further dilatory tactics.
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