Did Op-ed Affect the Lebanese?

Lebanon has decided to give employment rights to its Palestinians. Deputy FM Ayalon's advisor suggests connection to Ayalon's recent op-ed.

Eli Stutz , | updated: 12:01 PM

Danny Ayalon
Danny Ayalon

A senior advisor to Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon suggests that Lebanon's decision to upgrade its Palestinians' rights may be connected to Israeli PR efforts, including a recent op-ed by Ayalon in The Wall Street Journal.

Yesterday, Lebanon's parliament decided to give greater rights of employment to its 400,000 Palestinians, overturning a rule that forbade them from most work opportunities for decades.

"Parliament approved a law amendment lifting former restrictions on employment for Palestinian refugees, who will now have the right to work in any field open to foreigners with benefits including social security from their own special fund," a senior official told AFP.

Ashley Perry, senior advisor to Deputy FM Ayalon, noted to Israel National News that it is a "remarkable coincidence" that the Lebanese decision came a mere two weeks after a high-profile WSJ op-ed piece by Ayalon that highlighted the issue. "Mistreatment of Lebanese Palestinians has being going on since 1948," said Perry.

In his op-ed on July 29th, entitled "The Flotilla Farce," Ayalon highlighted the fact that Lebanon's mistreatment of its Palestinians has gone widely unnoticed, while all the world focuses on how Israel acts towards its Palestinians. This is hypocrisy, charged Ayalon.

Ayalon elaborated on Lebanon's mistreatment:

"Today, there are more than 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon who are deprived of their most basic rights. The Lebanese government has a list of tens of professions that a Palestinian is forbidden from being engaged in, including professions such as medicine, law and engineering. Palestinians are forbidden from owning property and need a special permit to leave their towns. Unlike all other foreign nationals in Lebanon, they are denied access to the health-care system. According to Amnesty international, the Palestinians in Lebanon suffer from "discrimination and marginalization" and are treated like "second class citizens" and "denied their full range of human rights."

Ashley Perry noted that this article was unique in that it brought Lebanon's behavior to the fore in such an open way in the mainstream media. Perry said that, "even if the article had a small impact on this policy, then it is very welcome."

Perry said that Ayalon's article was part of a new Israeli PR effort to go on the offensive and expose hypocrisy against Israel.

Palestinians in Lebanon are still far from attaining full rights. As other foreigners, they still won't be able to work as lawyers, doctors, soldiers, or in the police force - jobs that are reserved for Lebanese citizens. The Palestinians in Lebanon still live in poverty in refugee camps and do not have health care, right to citizenship and the right to property. But the upgrade is significant, since until now Palestinians could only work very limited fields such as construction and farming.

"We hope that this government decision is the first step towards the naturalization of the Palestinians in Lebanon," a senior Israeli government source told Israel National News.