Abbas looks to reassure Beirut during visit

Palestinian factions in Lebanon have been accused of supporting Islamist groups affiliated with rebel forces in Syria.

July 4, 2013 03:30
1 minute read.
PA PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas (r) walks past an honor guard with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.

Abbas and Suleiman370. (photo credit: Reuters)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Beirut on Wednesday to reassure Lebanese leaders that Palestinians living in the country would not meddle in their internal affairs.

Some Lebanese have accused various Palestinian factions in Lebanon of supporting radical Islamist groups that are affiliated with the rebel forces in Syria.

At least 18 soldiers were killed and dozens wounded in recent clashes between the Lebanese army and radical Islamist groups in Sidon and the Palestinian Ein al-Hilweh refugee camp. Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters in a number of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon have been accused of providing the Islamist groups with weapons and fighters.

The involvement of Palestinians in the unrest has sparked angry reactions in Lebanon, with some politicians calling for drastic measures against the refugee camps.

Nearly 70,000 Palestinians have also fled from Syria to Lebanon over the past two years, further escalating tensions in the country, which already hosts more than 450,000 Palestinian refugees.

Following a meeting with President Michel Suleiman, Abbas announced that the Palestinians were guests in Lebanon and would not meddle in the country’s internal affairs.

“The presence of Palestinians is temporary until they return to their homeland,” Abbas said.

“We do not believe in resettlement [in Lebanon].”

Expressing hope that the Lebanese government would protect the Palestinians, Abbas said the Palestinians were not party to any conflict in the Arab countries.

Suleiman told reporters that he emphasized during his meeting with Abbas the need to keep Palestinians away from internal conflicts in Lebanon and Syria. The Lebanese prime minister said some armed Palestinian groups were involved in the fighting in Sidon between the army and radical Islamist groups.

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