By DONNA ABU-NASR Associated Press Writer HARET AL-NAAMEH, Lebanon Apr 28, 2005

The U.N. resolution that forced Syria to withdraw says Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias should disarm, but the Palestinians say they won’t.

Not much attention was given to the issue while Syria was pulling out its troops in the past two months. But the subject has started to come up as the United Nations strives to implement the rest of Resolution 1559 and as Lebanese focus on elections and their country’s future.

A few hours after Syria completed its withdrawal Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said there should be movement on other requirements of the resolution, including the disarming of Palestinian gunmen.

And, on the same day, several lawmakers raised the issue in Parliament, including reports that Syrian intelligence officers are present at the PFLP-GC’s Haret al-Naameh and Qosaya bases. Al-Naameh is a few miles south of Beirut and Qosaya is in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

How can the government “explain the presence of military bases … that are equipped with heavy weapons?” said anti-Syrian lawmaker Nematalla Abi-Nasr. “Does the liberation of Jerusalem go through al-Naameh and Qosaya?”

Abi-Nasr said the U.N. team that will verify Syria’s withdrawal should also inspect the two bases.

PFLP-GC officials, based in Syria, could not be reached for comment. They have been lying low after U.S. pressure against Damascus to close down their offices.

But Maj. Gen. Sultan Abul-Einein, leader of the mainstream Fatah group of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon, scoffed at what he called U.N. “zeal” in implementing Resolution 1559 while U.N. resolutions relating to the Palestinians’ loss of land to Israel in 1948 have yet to be acted on.

“If anyone brings up 1559, I will ask the U.N., ‘Why haven’t the resolutions relating to the Palestinian cause been implemented?'” said Abul-Einein, pounding his black desk with an open palm. “If they had, we wouldn’t be here and our arms wouldn’t have been an issue.”

In an interview at the refugee camp of Rashidiyeh near the southern port city of Tyre, Abul-Einein said, “We will not give up our weapons without political guarantees that we can go back to our lands.”

Abu-Einein, 51, was sentenced to death by the Lebanese Military Tribunal in 1999 after he failed to appear in court to answer charges of leading an armed group and attacking people and public property, threatening state security and infringing on state property. He has said the charges were politically motivated. Then, he was a follower of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Syria’s longtime foe, and the Lebanese government was controlled by Syria.

The government never bothered to enforce the sentence against Abu-Einein, who is holed up in his camp, because it feared the action would trigger clashes between the Lebanese army and Palestinian guerrillas. That would cause Arab outrage, as such clashes have in the past.

The Palestinian presence in Lebanon is a touchy subject. Officials continue to voice fears of conspiracies to settle the Palestinians in the country, something that would upset the delicate balance among Lebanon’s 17 sects. Most of the 400,000 Palestinian refugees are Sunni Muslim.

The fate of the 4 million refugees and their descendants in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza hinges on a negotiated settlement between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Any solution negotiated with Israel will have to resolve the refugees’ plight whether by financial compensation, resettlement in the West Bank and Gaza, or the right to recover property they lost in the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars.

In an interview at the refugee camp of Rashidiyeh near the southern port city of Tyre, Abul-Einein said, “We will not give up our weapons without political guarantees that we can go back to our lands.”

Arafat was never willing or politically able to give up the right of return, and Israel has flatly rejected it, saying it would destroy the country’s Jewish majority.

While Palestinians in Jordan and Syria enjoy the same rights as the citizens of those countries including the right to work those in Lebanon are barred from work outside the camps.

In the 1970s, when the Palestinian leadership was rolling in money from sympathetic donors, the refugees in Lebanon ran a state within a state and were a major player in and a main cause of the country’s 1975-90 civil war. Today, the refugees are mostly confined to Lebanon’s 12 camps and their arsenal is believed to consist of light to moderate weapons.

Abul-Einein said Palestinians will not accept trading their miserable living conditions widespread lawlessness in some camps, poor infrastructure, second-class citizen status for a Lebanese passport or permanent residence in the West.

“We did not fight to become Lebanese, Syrians or Jordanians,” he said. “We fought to protect our Palestinian identity.”

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