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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/3/15

A path toward Hamas-Fatah reconciliation: Grant Palestinian refugees the right to work in Lebanon

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A path toward Hamas-Fatah reconciliation: Grant Palestinian refugees the right to work in Lebanon

Franklin Lamb

Shatla camp, Beirut

One imagines that few would question that intra-Palestinian divisions and rivalries have exacted a heavy toll on a majority of the more than 3.8 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants who are registered with the United Nations. These refugees out of the current nearly 12 million Palestinians whose country was illegally occupied in 1948 and each of whom possess, under international law the Full Right of Return to their country. As physical and social infrastructures in the camps continue to deteriorate, all refugees suffer and particularly students among whose ranks ever fewer attend ill- equipped classrooms sometimes with untrained teachers with outmoded curriculum obsolete in the modern marketplace. The Hamas-Fatah conflict is letting down the Palestinian youth when they seek advice and practical options and are failing to give youngsters who are Palestine's future the entrepreneurial spirit and potential of the private sector. This obtains because we have not to date successfully challenged the outlawing of Palestinian refugees right to work and earn a living in Lebanon.

The continuing Hamas-Fatah divisions are a particularly sharp detriment to the more than 1.8 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the approximately 249,000 remaining in Lebanon in addition to approximately 44,000 who have so far reported to UNRWA's field office in Lebanon, opposite Shatila camp, having fled the nearly two year siege of Yarmouk camp in Damascus. Today, the Hamas-Fatah divisions are exhausting and diverting the energies of these two key Palestinian pillars and they are disrupting progress toward ending the Zionist occupation of their homeland. The split is causing a perceptible decline in international support for the just Palestinian cause and the longer it continues it causes yet more hardships in the camps.

This bleak situation despite earlier efforts at Palestinian reconciliation including the Cairo Agreement of 2005, the National Reconciliation Document of June 2006, Fatah--Hamas Mecca Agreement (February 2007), the 2011 Cairo Accords ( May 2011), the Fatah--Hamas Doha Agreement (2012) and the most recent proposals for a Hamas-Fatah "unity government" (April 2014) and the urging of a Hamas-Fatah "unity government" (March 2015).

A member of the Hamas political bureau advised this observer at a Beirut conference a few days ago that the movement accepts in principle a Swiss proposal of March 2015 to resolve the crisis facing Palestinian Authority employees in the Gaza Strip.

But with one condition.

Hamas wants the Swiss proposal to be addressed in the context of a definitive Palestinian reconciliation agreement. And with good reason, as the gentleman elaborated that so far the international community will not accept a Palestinian Authority in which there is Hamas participation, even though the Islamic movement won the election in 2006. Hence, for example, it is difficult for international donors to contribute towards the salaries of workers who have been employed by Hamas in Gaza since 2007. Moreover, the EU has this month kept Hamas on its terrorism blacklist despite a court decision ordering Brussels to remove the Palestinian group from the register. Brussels has lodged an appeal against a December ruling by the bloc's second-highest court that Hamas should be delisted for the first time since 2001. The appeal process is expected to take about 18 more months.

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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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