Palestinian Refugees Must Be Spread And Re-Settled In All Arab States

By Dr. Joseph Hitti

With the fighting in Lebanon raging between government forces and Palestinians, it is high time for the problem of Palestinian refugees is finally resolved. The only solution that makes sense is to re-settle them in the 21 Arab states.

Both the Arab world and the West are to blame for the plight of the Palestinian refugees. The history of western anti-Semitism ultimately led to the creation of Israel and the displacement of the Palestinian people. Arab countries have abused their Palestinian refugee populations for political motives.

Lebanon is a small country of 3.5 million people with a sensitive demographic composition. The Lebanese people are unanimous in categorically rejecting the permanent settlement of the 500,000 Palestinian refugees on their soil.

Israel has so far refused to grant the refugees the Right of Return because it too fears a demographic imbalance.

The refugee camps in Lebanon never were, are not, and will never be the permanent home of the refugees. The Palestinian refugee problem is not Lebanonís responsibility. Lebanon has no legal or moral obligation to the refugees beyond the shelter it gave them for 60 years and the wars and devastation they inflicted on it over the past 40 years through their political and military organizations (PLO, Al-Saika, PFLP, Fatah Al-Islam and many others). It is time for the world to unburden Lebanon of the refugees.

In order to end the terrible plight that these refugees have lived for the past 60 years, and until their final status is determined between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the refugees should be encouraged to leave the squalid camps of Lebanon and emigrate for re-settlement in the following countries:

  • WEST BANK: the Palestinian Authority should re-settle those refugees who wish to return to Palestine. Itís their country!

  • ISRAEL: In the absense of the Right of Return of Palestinians into the Jewish State, Israel should financially compensate those refugees who agree to waive never to make a claim to Israeli citizenship or residency, thus helping in their re-settlement elsewhere.

  • ARAB COUNTRIES: The 21 Arab Member States of the Arab League should, each in proportion to its population density, accept the re-settlement of those refugees who wish to do so. A quota system may be adopted such that the largest and wealthiest countries re-settle larger numbers of refugees than smaller and poorer countries.

  • THE WEST: The traditional countries of emigration - US, Canada, Mexico, Central and Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand as well as those European countries who were directly responsible for the genesis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (e.g. Germany, the UK, etc.) Ė should offer to permanently settle on a quota basis those of the refugees who elect to do so.

    This solution would finally give the refugees a chance for a better life, it would allow Lebanon to finally be on the track of recovery, and would contribute to the final resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Dr. Joseph Hitti is a democracy activist who writes for the Global Politician about issues relating to Lebanon.