Lebanon backtracks on move to open up jobs to Palestinian refugees

Lebanon backtracks on move to open up jobs to Palestinian refugees
2 min read
11 February, 2022
Lebanon bars Palestinian refugees from becoming engineers, doctors, or lawyers, among more than 70 other prohibited occupations.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon [AFP via Getty]

A Lebanese move to allow Palestinian refugees to work in jobs formerly open only to Lebanese nationals has been halted.

The November policy's rollout was suspended by Lebanon's State Shura Council on Thursday last week, French-language daily L'Orient-Le Jour reported on Friday.

Lebanon bars Palestinian refugees, like other non-citizens, from becoming engineers, doctors, or lawyers, among more than 70 other prohibited occupations, Palestinian paper Al-Hadath said.

Neamatallah Abi Nasr, chief of the Maronite League, which represents Lebanon's largest Christian sect, applauded Thursday's news, saying that his group formally challenged the policy late last year.

He added the State Shura Council had "taken our arguments into account".

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The now-halted move extended new job opportunities to Palestinians born in the country or to those with Lebanese wives or mothers. The measure also stood to benefit stateless people.

Palestinian women with Lebanese husbands were already eligible to work in barred roles since they could claim Lebanese nationality through their spouses, a status Lebanese women cannot transfer to their partners.

Moustafa Bayram, Beirut's labour minister, was responsible for the November move to allow Palestinians to take jobs.

"What we said in our decision was that the priority was for Lebanese people, followed by Palestinians who suffer from what we suffer," he argued last year, according to Palestinian paper Al-Hadath.

"What I did was to cancel the decisions of previous ministers that were constricting for Palestinians."

Bayram rejected criticism that the move was connected to granting Lebanese citizenship to Palestinians, a controversial proposition widely believed to be to Israel's benefit because it would end any hope Palestinian refugees have of returning to their homeland.

The minister said: "No one can surpass us on the issue of refusing to grant citizenship [to Palestinians]."