The petition has circulated through Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps dotted throughout the tiny country, said Suhail Natur, a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) on Thursday.

The petition asks members of parliament to amend “discriminatory and racist” measures of a 2002 property law which has attracted a flood of criticism from human rights organisations.

The current legislation forbids the acquisition of property in Lebanon by all non-Lebanese people “who do not possess citizenship issued by a state recognised by” Beirut.

Palestinian refugees are not specifically mentioned but the aim is clearly to prevent the permanent settlement of at least 375,000 Palestinians in Lebanon. At least half live in camps.

Proposal

An attempt to overturn the ban, introduced by 10 deputies on Wednesday, will come before parliament on 7 October.

Palestinians are demanding the
right to return to their homes

MP Marwan Faris, one of the signatories, was quoted as saying the deputies wanted to offer a gift to the Palestinian people on the third anniversary of the Intifada.

The amendment “is an important development in making Lebanon conform with the international charter on human rights which it helped draw up in 1946,” said Natur.

“The Lebanese are more and more convinced that the Palestinians do not want permanent residency in their countries of asylum and are working to secure their right to return” to their homes in what is now Israel, he added.

For economic and demographic reasons, Beirut refuses permanent residency to Palestinian refugees fearing it will upset the country’s delicate sectarian balance, further towards Muslims.