The parliament ratified during its Tuesday session a draft proposal to amend Article 50 of the 1946 Lebanese Labor Law to grant Palestinian refugees in Lebanon the right to free-of-charge work permits.
As other foreigners, Palestinians will not be able to work as doctors or lawyers, or in the army and police force, all reserved for Lebanese citizens.
Until now, the refugees have been limited in employment opportunities, such as farming and construction.
The issue of Palestinian rights sparked debate after Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt submitted a proposal to parliament on June 15 to grant Palestinian refugees in Lebanon civil rights. The majority of Christian MPs voted against the bill.
The parliament also approved severance pay for Palestinian employees in Lebanon.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) representative in Lebanon Abdullah Abdullah said that the parliament’s decision to grant Palestinian refugees in Lebanon certain labor rights “is a step in the right direction but does not fulfill all of the requests [of the Palestinians].”
Abdullah said that he will continue to work to ensure that Palestinians have the right to own property in Lebanon.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea also commented on the issue, welcoming the parliament’s approval of the proposal to grant Palestinians in Lebanon certain rights, according to a statement issued by Geagea’s press office.
However, he said, “This law will not resolve the Palestinian humanitarian issues in Lebanon, and the government cannot afford any burdens.”
Additional encumbrances on the government might lead to negative consequences, such as the naturalization of the Palestinians, he added.
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun said Tuesday that the text of the proposal on Palestinian labor rights differed from the draft approved by the parliament’s Administration and Justice Commission.
“No one has the right to manipulate the law’s text and reveal changes in the last minute,” he said, calling for integrity in the parliamentary process.
Some fear that granting the refugees the right to own property, among others, would be a slippery slope to permanent settlement and giving the mainly Sunni Muslim Palestinians full-fledged citizenship.
Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt told Al-Quds al-Arabi magazine on Tuesday that he will keep pushing for the right of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to own property in the country.