The Palestinian Impasse in Lebanon: The Politics of Refugee Integration
This book investigates the social and political orientation of ordinary Lebanese citizens toward the Palestinian presence in Lebanon, as well as the Palestinian refugees' perceptions of their situation and status. Of all the countries hosting Palestinians, Lebanon confronts probably the most sensitive and serious problems. After two decades of civil war, the Palestinian presence has been the subject of much controversial debate. Large-scale resettlement would further erode the country's precarious demographic composition, and for a multi-confessional state that recognizes the primacy of religious communities, Palestinian refugee resettlement policy must satisfy all communities to be workable. In particular, most Lebanese groups should see resettlement as benefiting Lebanese society and in line with their country's national interest. Current minimal social integration and weak inter-communal bonds between Lebanese and Palestinian groups are a major obstacle to achieving resettlement without disrupting peaceful coexistence. While the main focus is the measurement of socio-political attitudes toward Palestinians, other important issues are also addressed. If economic conditions improve as a result of Palestinian resettlement in the context of an aid/development package, would this reduce social distance and hence opposition for resettlement? And in relation to the maximalist claim for Palestinian resettlement in Israel, the concern about demographic balance voiced by the Maronite Christian opposition is similar to the concerns of the Jewish state. In addressing an important, current humanitarian issue, this book tackles common conceptions about attitudes toward Palestinian permanent settlement in Lebanon. The findings not only contribute to the larger debate on Palestinian refugee resettlement throughout the Middle East, but they also provide a wealth of new data and original and insightful analysis.
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