What are the Odds?
The Case for Palestinian Rights in Lebanon
By FRANKLIN LAMB
Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp,
In a future report I will reveal publicly for the first time, with the permission of the various drafting committees, the changes in Lebanon's laws each one advocates. Despite the fact that bookies and odd makers at Lebanon's main Casino in Jounieh decline to give odds on any of the drafts actually being enacted by Parliament, Lebanon's political leaders are talking sweet. "If it were up to me, I would give the Palestinians the right to work tomorrow!" Prime Minister Saad Hariri exclaimed during a Future TV channel interview recently and to various visiting delegations who are increasingly inquiring about the subject of basic civil rights for Palestine refugees as awareness spreads in Lebanon and internationally about camp conditions in Lebanon. The PM's polite interviewer demurred from asking him why the Prime Minister thought it was not up to him and indeed not up to all members of Parliament to correct this shameful and dangerous injustice.
Hezbollah's leadership, including Sayeed Hassan Nasrallah and his deputy, former chemistry professor, Naim Qasim, and Hezbollah's Parliamentary delegation, among other party leaders, have repeatedly endorsed civil rights for Palestinians in Lebanon as obligatory given the Resistance movement's "religious, moral, national and humanitarian duty".
No Lebanese political leader has been more consistently out front in support of Palestinian civil rights than Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. He advocates "civil rights now' and organized and funded a Progressive Socialist Party conference last January which brought together scores of leaders to push for Parliamentary passage of the right to work, to own a home and social security entitlements.
Other leaders have also expressed their views that granting Palestinians civil rights is needed for many reasons including lifting Lebanon's shame.