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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reuters lies on Lebanese Palestinians

Reuters-Middle East Watch picks up on a story by Mariam Karouny on Lebanon's slight easing of restrictions on what professions Palestinian Arabs can now enter, after 62 years.

One sentence is an out-and-out lie:
Palestinians themselves have repeatedly said they oppose plans to settle them in Lebanon, saying they want to go back to the villages their families fled or were forced to flee during fighting which created the state of Israel in 1948.
This is not true. What is true is that so-called Palestinian Arab leaders have said this publicly, and that the Lebanese leaders and non-Sunni citizens are also against their naturalization - but no one has done any survey or poll asking Palestinian Arabs in Lebanon, Jordan or Syria whether they would like to become citizens in the countries that they have been in for decades.

All available evidence is to the contrary.

From Forced Migration:

The Lebanese Government and the majority of the Lebanese people oppose any permanent integration of the Palestinian refugees (USCR Report, 1999: 1), under the pretext that granting citizenship to the Palestinians, who are mostly Sunni Muslims, would upset the delicate sectarian balance in Lebanon. They also blame them for the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon. It is interesting to note that in the 1950s and 1960s around 50,000 Palestinians were granted Lebanese citizenship, mainly Christian Palestinians as well as some middle-class Muslim families. However, the latter achieved this by employing the services of lawyers and proving Lebanese ancestry. During the 1990s, about 20,000 more Palestinians were granted nationality (Khalidi, 2001: 16). In 1994, Shiites from the seven border villages and a year later some Sunnis, as well as the remaining Christian Palestinians who hadn’t been granted Lebanese nationality in the 1950s or 1960s became Lebanese (Peteet, 1997).

On May 27, 2003, the Lebanese Shura Council ordered the Ministry of Interior to re-examine the files of around 150,000 people who have been granted Lebanese citizenship according to Decree No. 5247 of June, 1994. The timing of this ruling is significant, as according to Lebanese law a period of 10 years has to elapse before new Lebanese citizens are granted full civil rights. The Minister of Interior has declared that he will revoke the Lebanese citizenship of Palestinians and others who have obtained the citizenship by false means.
So on at least two occasions, tens of thousands of Palestinian Lebanese were given the chance to become citizens - and they took advantage of it. As far as I can tell, none that had that opportunity spurned the offer, saying that they would prefer to go back to the villages they lived in before 1948 and would rather stay in miserable Lebanese camps.

Yet Reuters airily says, without any attribution or proof, that the entire population of "Palestinians" have repeatedly opposed such plans.

Tell that to the Youssef Ahmad, interviewed in the New York Times this week, who said "If I am going to live and die here, then I want all my rights." It sure doesn't sound like he opposes settlement in Lebanon.

Too bad Reuters felt it necessary to push this lie that keeps hundreds of thousands of human beings in misery.