BEIRUT: Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (P.L.O.) representative in Lebanon Abdullah Abdullah said Monday that Palestinian armed groups outside refugee camps were subject to the authority of the Lebanese state.
“The issue of weapons outside refugee camps is a Lebanese sovereign decision,” he told state-run Tele Liban. “We support what the Lebanese agree upon.” Abdullah said. He said the P.L.O. was at an equal distance from all political parties and would refrain from taking part in Lebanon’s internal affairs.
“Our role is to support unity among the Lebanese, the country’s security, stability and sovereignty,” he said.
Lebanese parties across the political spectrum agreed during National Dialogue sessions in 2006 to disarm all groups outside camps but practical steps have yet to be taken.
However, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine- General Command (P.F.L.P.-G.C.) Ahmad Jibril said demands to disarm groups outside camps were U.S.-Israeli motivated.
“The demands of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to confiscate those weapons are dictated by Israel and the U.S. because if these weapons were unimportant and non-threatening they would not ask for their elimination,” he told Iran’s Al-Alam satellite television.
Jibril said the Lebanese government should address the humanitarian and social needs of Palestinian refugees rather than look into the issue from a security perspective.
Palestinian groups in refugee camps across the country are divided between their loyalties to the Palestinian authority on the one hand and to Hamas and Syria on the other, with several armed groups established in the Bekaa Valley, outside recognized refugee camps.
The groups in the Bekaa region, including the P.F.L.P.-G.C., are known for their close affiliation to Syria.
In September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Lebanese government can collect the weapons of the Palestinian factions outside the refugee camps whenever it wants to.
More recently, Abbas said Palestinian refugees were guests in Lebanon and therefore should comply with the laws of the Lebanese state, adding that the Palestinian Authority supported all measures taken by the Lebanese government to preserve stability in Lebanon.
Former head of Fatah in Lebanon, Mounir al-Maqdah, told the Central News Agency Monday that any emerging Palestinian factions seeking to destabilize refugee camps were doomed to extinction, in reference to the disbanded Jund al-Sham and Fatah al-Islam Al-Qaeda inspired movements.
The agency quoted a source in Ain al-Hilweh as saying that both Jund al-Sham and Fatah al-Islam organizations seem to be paralyzed after the Lebanese Army cracked down on their key leaders while the camp’s Palestinian factions across the political spectrum renounced them.
Ghandi Sahmarani, a commander in the disbanded Jund al-Sham movement was found dead in the southern refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh last month while a key leader of Fatah al-Islam, Abdel Rahman Awad, and his assistant Abu Bakr Ghazi were killed in a gunfight after they attempted to flee an army patrol.
The Lebanese Army crushed Fatah al-Islam militants in 2007 after three months of fighting in and around the Nahr al-Bared camp on the outskirts of Tripoli. A total of 170 Lebanese soldiers, more than 120 militants and more than 200 civilians were killed.
About 400,000 Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon, according to the U.N. agency for Palestine refugees. Earlier this year, Lebanon’s Parliament granted refugees the partial right to work and social security benefits.