Vastavam web: Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said Sunday that the country will not be “tempted” by money into giving up Palestinian rights, criticising the Trump administration’s USD50 billion investment proposal that comes as part of its recently unveiled Middle East peace plan. Berri said in a statement carried by the state-run National News Agency that although Lebanon is currently dealing with an economic crisis, it would be a mistake to think that billions of dollars could convince the government to abandon Palestinians’ rights as refugees.
The 10-year plan calls for projects worth USD6.3 billion for Palestinians in Lebanon, as well as USD27.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza, USD9.1 billion in Egypt and USD7.4 billion in Jordan. The large sums for Jordan and Lebanon, countries with substantial Palestinian refugee populations, were an apparent attempt to have them absorbed into these nations, rather than allow them to maintain their refugee status and the hope that they could someday return to their homeland in what is now Israel.
Naturalising Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are Sunni Muslim, would disrupt Lebanon’s very delicate sectarian balance between the country’s 18 religious sects. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner faces high hurdles and low expectations as he looks to build support for the initiative ahead of a two-day conference in Bahrain later this week. Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, angered by what they and their supporters see as blatant US bias toward Israel, want nothing to do with the workshop and will not participate.
The conference will also ignore the core political issues that are key to resolving the dispute, such as borders, the status of the holy city of Jerusalem, Israel’s security and the fate of Palestinian refugees. Berri said that Lebanon will resist, along with the Palestinians, the naturalisation of Palestinians “through all legitimate means.”
He added that Palestinians should have the right to return to their land and set up a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.