Libya to expel Palestinians?

BBC Monitoring reports on a March 14 story on the website of the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat, “Libya hints at [possibility of] expelling the Palestinians under the pretext of combating settlement in the diaspora”:

The Palestinians have expressed surprise at Libya’s remarks of the possibility of expelling thousands of Palestinian residents under the pretext of combating settlement, and called on Col [Mu’ammar] al-Qadhafi to refrain from that [measure].

Under the headline “The Black Deal”, the official Libyan newspaper Al-Jamahiriyah said yesterday “an attempt is currently under way for the wholesale sale of millions of Palestinian refugees as the price to convince the Israelis to accept the so-called Arab Beirut initiative”. It said: “According to this black deal, all the Palestinians in the diaspora will be settled in the countries they live in. Thus, the Palestinians in Lebanon will become Lebanese, those in Syria will be Syrians, those in Libya will be Libyans and those in Egypt will become Egyptians, and the Palestinian issue will be settled in this way.” It added that Libya “will not be a partner in relinquishing the refugees’ right of return and settling them away from their homeland” and that “it [Libya] is holding contacts to enable thousands of the Palestinians living in it to go to the Gaza Strip via Egypt before the conspiracy to settle them in the Arab countries is implemented”.

[Passage omitted: Recalling Libya’s expulsion of thousands of Palestinians in September 1995.]

The Palestinians have expressed their surprise at Libya’s insinuation of the possibility of expelling thousands of Palestinians working in it to Gaza. The official spokesman of the “Fatah” bloc in the [Palestinian] Legislative Council, Deputy Jamal al-Tirawi, said that “the expulsion of the Palestinians living in Libya will move them from one diaspora to another either in Egypt or on the border where Israel will not allow them to enter [into the Gaza Strip]”. He hoped that “Col Al-Qadhafi would retract his decision which, if implemented, would be a new displacement for the Palestinians and would not take them back to their occupied and besieged homeland”.

The official spokesman of the “Fatah” Movement, Fahmi al-Za’arir, said: “It is painful to see the Palestinians working in Libya being expelled every now and then in order to achieve political goals at the expense of these poor people who do not have any power or might and who will only find the desert as their refuge if they are expelled again, because the occupation state [Israel] will not allow them to cross into the homeland.”

See last posts on Libya, Palestine, and the plight of Palestinians facing expulsion from Iraq.