The Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have erupted in a new kind of Intifada: demanding integration in Lebanon, hence the desperate giving up of the “right of return.” The trigger for the turmoil among the refugees was the Lebanese Ministry of Labor actions against foreign laborers in the state, including the Palestinians, who, even after all the years that have passed, are still considered guests and cannot receive work permits.
The Syrian crisis caused a deep demographic change in Lebanon after one million Sunni Syrians flooded the country, including many Palestinians from the Syrian camps. The change has introduced many radical elements and reinforced various al-Qaeda groups in the camps in Lebanon. Lebanon doesn’t want them to set down roots in the country, and in any case, the Lebanese hate the Syrians and want to throw them out and to use the opportunity to get rid of the Palestinians.
Now, along comes President Trump with his plan negating the “right of return,” and Lebanon is signaling that it doesn’t approve. The Palestinians are signaling that they specifically want to be absorbed into Lebanon, and they don’t believe the PLO slogans of the right of return – “aliyah” – to Palestine.
Generally, the crisis in Syria cut the Palestinians off from the PLO that was unconcerned about them. [Almost 4,000 Palestinian men, women, and children were killed in the civil war.1] The Palestinians formed ad hoc groups to represent and care for themselves. No refugee from Syria wants to go to Palestine; they all want to go to Turkey and beyond to Europe.
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