Lebanon refuses to grant citizenship to 'Palestinian refugees'

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister says his country will never agree to grant Lebanese citizenship to so-called "Palestinian refugees".

Dalit Halevi ,

Gebran Bassil
Gebran Bassil

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil says his country will never agree to grant Lebanese citizenship to so-called “Palestinian refugees", in response to reports that the US government would like the countries hosting the “refugees” to grant them citizenship.

"Even if the entire world agrees to naturalization, we will never agree to that, and just as we defeated Israel by removing its occupation [from Lebanon in 2000], we will defeat it with regard to the naturalization plan and the right of return that will remain sacred," Bassil said in an interview with Lebanese newspaper Al Joumhouria.

He added that the discussion on the refugee issue was nothing new and said that Lebanon had become accustomed to dealing with such positions adopted by Israel and the United States, and that it had warned about the severity of such positions.

There are thousands of people registered as Palestinian refugees in Israel’s neighboring countries, including Lebanon and Syria, where they have been caught in the Syrian civil war.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have limited work options and are refused citizenship.

In recent years, the refugee camps in Lebanon have been the scene of armed clashes between rival groups, resulting in the deaths of some refugees.

According to figures from the Lebanese Bureau of Statistics, the number of “Palestinian refugees” in Lebanon stood at 174,422 in 2017, living in 12 refugee camps and 156 towns.

The Lebanese numbers contradict the official figures published by UNRWA, which says there are 449,957 “Palestinian refugees” living in 12 refugee camps in Lebanon.

Palestinian Arab sources have recently reported that the number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon has shrunk by about half after many emigrated to Western countries due to the long-standing policy of discrimination against them by the Lebanese government.