BEIRUT: The government is ready to cooperate to facilitate the registration of Palestinian associations operating in the country, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told a seminar hosted Wednesday by the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee.
Presently, more than two-thirds of Palestinian humanitarian and civil organizations functioning in the country have not registered with the Interior Ministry, according to a study conducted by the LPDC, which operates as a department of the Office of the Prime Minister.
Lebanese law allows for the existence of Palestinian organizations under Law 369 of 1939, Charbel said, but he made clear such bodies, like all foreign organizations operating in Lebanon, must be granted a permit through the Cabinet.
Associations that fail to register are considered “secret,” he explained, warning that “if associations remain operational without the knowledge of the state ... the board of directors can be fired.”
The minister, who read aloud a short list of Palestinian associations that are officially registered, urged all such organizations to submit permit requests.
“We are ready to cooperate to register associations that are currently operating in secret,” he said, adding that doing so “is in the interest of Palestinians and Lebanese.”
Addressing the seminar held at the Grand Serail, one of the study’s authors, attorney Paul Markos, noted that one reason so many of the more than 230 Palestinian associations are not registered is that these bodies “are not really aware of the issues of establishment and their rights.”
Markos said it was important to emphasize that the registration of organizations with the Lebanese state did not stand in contradiction of other rights claimed by Palestinians – such as the right of return – and pointed out that the Lebanese authorities had the right to know what foreign organization exist within their territories.
He also highlighted that the activities of nonregistered associations, many of which are offering humanitarian assistance, were often impeded or limited because in the absence of a state registration number they were ineligible for a host of sources of funding.
Markos also discouraged Palestinian bodies from trying to circumvent the law by posing as Lebanese associations.
Also speaking at the seminar, LPDC Chairman Khaldoun Sharif said that addressing the issues of legitimizing associations might be “the simplest” of the raft of challenges facing the Palestinian population in Lebanon and commended Charbel for his efforts in this respect. Other thornier matters include the issues of arms in the country’s refugee camps and Palestinians’ rights to work and own property in the country.