Patiarch Rai: Lebanon rejects financial incentives for naturalizing refugees

patriarch in Riyadh
File photo of Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai

Maronite Patiarch Beshara al-Rahi on Tuesday said Lebanon will refuses any financial incentives aimed at naturalizing Palestinian and Syrian refugees in the country .

Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai .

“We reject any type of international policy that tries to burden Lebanon with the price of everything that is going on in the region,” Rai said.

“The danger lies in a rift among the Lebanese should (naturalization) occur,” the patriarch added, urging citizens to show unity in the face of any foreign pressures.

“Lebanon cannot bear the burden of the new policy represented in ‘the deal of the century’ and its negative repercussions,” he said, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial peace plan for the Middle East.

Most of the refugees from both Palestine and Syria are Sunni Muslims . There is concern within the Christian and Shiite communities that any increase in the number of Sunnis will create an imbalance in Lebanon.

Trump’s plan proposes that illegal Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley to be annexed to Israel

The state of Palestine would be demilitarised, and Israel would retain control over its borders.

As to the right of return, the plan would allow for Palestinian refugees who have not “already resettled in a permanent location” – a condition that has yet to be defined – to apply for resettlement in the future Palestinian state.

But the right to return would not apply to lands within the borders of Israel.

There are an estimated 450,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon who fled the Palestinian areas that are are now part ofd Israel there are also an additional  29,000 who have settled in the country after fleeing the war next door in Syria.

President Michel Aoun created a huge backlash in 2018 when he signed a controversial decree granting citizenship to some 375 people mostly Palestinian and Syrian Christians.