Palestinian refugees used burning tires to cut through the entrance to the Rashidieh refugee camp near Tyre in protest of the Lebanese Labor Ministry’s decision to prosecute Palestinian businesses, Ma’an reported Monday.
Back in 2005, Lebanon’s labor ministry allowed Palestinian refugees to engage in professions from which they had been barred since 1948.
Reports from Lebanon say that over the past few days, Labor Ministry inspectors have implemented recent decisions to shut down businesses owned by Palestinians.
According to Ma’an, the PLO in Lebanon was surprised by the actions carried out by the Lebanese Labor Ministry to prosecute Palestinian workers in their workplaces and to issue legal and financial restrictions against their employers as part of operation “Combating illegal foreign workers.”
“This behavior is not in line with the official Lebanese position that supports the rights of the Palestinian people and rejects the so-called ‘Deal of the Century,'” Ma’an wrote, adding: “It is also inconsistent with the unity of the official Palestinian and Lebanese position that rejects the settlement enterprise. To shut down the Palestinian refugees’ businesses, to shut the doors of life and starve them – instead of strengthening their determination and their ability to resist all projects and plots aimed at the right of return, including the resettlement project.”
The Labor Ministry’s move targets Palestinian refugees born in Lebanon and registered in the statistics of the country’s Interior Ministry as well as UNRWA. Official Lebanese policy denies Palestinian ownership in Lebanon.
Palestinian refugees—most of whom are Lebanese-born—face difficult requirements for owning a commercial institution, as well as registering it in the commercial register and the chambers of commerce. They are required to deposit 100 million Lebanese pounds ($67,000) in the bank as a guarantee, which is more than most of them have, and they are required to employ 75% Lebanese workers.
The closure of institutions and shops will have very serious consequences not only for the Palestinians, but also for their Lebanese employee, which will no doubt result in a cycle of economic decline, with some local banks facing outright extinction. Now, according to Ma’an, in light of the political polarization in the country, the Palestinians fear they will become scapegoats.