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