The implementation of the Lebanese Labor Code is righteous. The implementation of all laws is righteous. It is also righteous to show consideration to the specificity of the Palestinian refugee situation who were forced to flee their homeland and sought refuge in Lebanon 71 years ago.
In this context - despite the rightfulness of its human, constitutional and sovereign legitimacy - it is necessary for all of us Lebanese and Palestinian refugees to remain calm in the face of the escalating clash over the Minister of Labor’s decision to enforce the Labor Code and its amendments; this code was approved back in 2010 amid a Lebanese-Palestinian confrontation that almost created a sharp Lebanese-Lebanese division that could have undermined the path towards the healing of the Lebanese-Palestinian memories on the principle of reaffirming the dignity of refugees under the sovereignty of the state until their return to their homeland.
This path started in 2005, with the establishment of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee attached to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. It is imperative to remain calm in the face of this re-instigated clash, in the sense of taking a scientific stance rather than a demagogic and populist one, where everything becomes confused and politicization prevails. Hence, it is necessary to pinpoint the lethal confusion not only over what happened in the last two weeks, but also over the entire approach adopted by the Lebanese State in dealing with the Palestinian refugees, and the approach adopted by the latter towards the state of Lebanon. (“The Lebanese State is the desired denomination, albeit the structural divisions that have begun to erode the substance of the state and our hope for it).
Sovereignty and Rights are Inextricably Intertwined
The misery on the situation of the Palestinian refugees cannot be prolonged until their return - it is important to refer to the expression “until they return” to avoid excessive manipulations of the opinion of some groups of the public and their leaders – nor can they continue to live in poverty and marginalization. However, it is not possible for some of the Palestinians to continue to rise above the sovereignty of Lebanon.
Sovereignty and rights are inextricably intertwined. In this context, there is no allusion whatsoever to invest in an abhorrent trade-off. Trade-offs are rejected. However, to ensure the integrity of Lebanese-Palestinian relations, it must be emphasized that, as much as there is a strong persuasion that human rights are indivisible, there is a strong persuasion that sovereignty is indivisible. All the more, rights are the building blocks of sovereignty.
The options that overstepped the legitimacy have been hampering the decisions of the National Dialogue Committee since 2006 and are responsible for the consequences of delicate issues such as the ones we are experiencing at this stage and those that we may encounter in the future, against the backdrop of a bleak regional and international horizon, especially regarding the complexities of the Palestinian cause.
The Compass: The Unified Lebanese Vision
Since 2005, the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee has made concerted efforts to correct concepts and straighten the trajectories of the Lebanese-Palestinian relations. In return, there have been serious repeated attempts to undermine this “State” adjustments since the battles of Nahr el-Bared.
Some people are aggrieved at the fall of the logic of the paper that is subject to trade-off, compromise and localized use when needed in the case of Palestinian refugees. There is no need to explain this logic. Let's go back into earlier and recent history. What about the re-emergence of the decision to move arms and entities for the purpose of lying in wait for anticipated negotiations that do not have anything to do with the reality of the issue all the more, so they are intended to strengthen the positions of influence until the outcomes of this anticipation are achieved.
The “Unified Lebanese Vision for the Palestinian Refugee Affairs in Lebanon" that was signed in 2017 by Lebanese political parties represented by their parliamentary blocs at the national dialogue table, is the compass to which we are invited to revert. This document presents a comprehensive approach to public policy regarding the issues of Palestinian refugees.
The biggest question to broach in this context is who stood in the way of listing this document on the agenda of the Council of Ministers, while the Prime Minister has requested it twice since 2018, and why? (It is worth noting that the document addresses also the issue of Palestinian weapons).
The lethal confusion over the Palestinian labor crisis in Lebanon goes beyond law enforcement... if only we could learn the lesson!
Ziad El Sayegh is an expert on public policies and refugee crises.
An-Nahar is not responsible for the comments that users post below. We kindly ask you to keep this space a clean and respectful forum for discussion.