Abbas: Refugees in Lebanon not above law

Oct. 20, 2005 at 4:35 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon were guests and not above that country's law.

"We are determined not to interfere in domestic Lebanese affairs," Abbas told reporters at the White House following his meeting with President George W. Bush.

Earlier this week, Abbas had talks in Paris with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora about disarming Palestine Liberation Organization militias in Lebanon's refugee camps.

The same U.N. resolution 1559 that last year called for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon also called for the disbanding of non-Lebanese militias.

There are around 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon living in 12 camps originally set up to receive people following the emergence of an Israeli state in 1948. Palestinian militias protect the camps and constitute the biggest security challenge to the Lebanese government.

Abbas said the refugees are "temporary guests and subject to the laws of Lebanon." However, no agreement was reached in the talks, and Abbas promised further discussion.

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