The bill I wrote about recently proposing new civil rights for Palestinians refugees in Lebanon has passed – well, a rather watered down version. In the face of parliamentary opposition, mainly from the Christian right, Jumblatt’s legislative proposal had key parts stripped away, most significantly the right to own property. Lebanon’s Palestinians still cannot work in several important fields like engineering, law, and medicine, even if they are qualified – to do so would require joining a professional syndicate, which are closed to them. And the bill does nothing to combat the employer discrimination that prevents many refugees from finding even a menial job. Around 60% of Palestinians in Lebanon are currently unemployed and the community in general remains in poverty.
Changes have been made to employment law: Palestinians can apply for work permits, claim for an accident at work, and pay into a pension fund. Yet the watering down of the key proposals mean that the bill is unlikely to dramatically affect the quality of life of Lebanon’s refugee community.