Hamas blames US for violence at Lebanon refugee camps

By Wasim Saif al-Din

BEIRUT (AA) – The U.S. is instigating violence in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon in an effort to implement a controversial Mideast peace plan known as the "Deal of the Century", Ali Baraka, Hamas’s representative in Lebanon, said Friday.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Baraka condemned recent violence at Southern Lebanon’s Mieh Mieh refugee camp between rival Palestinian factions.

On Oct. 16, at least nine people were killed — and dozens more injured — when clashes erupted at the camp between rival factions Fatah and Ansar Allah.

According to Baraka, such violent flare-ups “only serve the U.S.-backed ‘Deal of the Century’, which is aimed at destroying the Palestinian national cause and refugees’ right to return to historical Palestine”.

The term “Deal of the Century” refers to a backchannel U.S. Mideast peace plan, details of which have yet to be made public.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, for his part, has rejected the peace plan, which, he said, "ignores the Jerusalem and refugee issues, allows Israel to keep its [illegal] settlements, and gives Israel the upper hand on security-related issues".

After recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Baraka said, the U.S. administration had moved on to the deal’s “second phase”, which, he asserted, involves cancelling refugees’ right to return to historical Palestine.

"After Washington stopped funding UNRWA [the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees], it began sowing sedition between Palestinian factions, encouraging them to fight one another in the Lebanon camps," he said.

He added: "Recent clashes in Lebanon’s Mieh Mieh refugee camp, for example, were a means of destroying the camp and displacing its people."

Baraka went on to urge all Palestinian factions to “exercise caution and be aware of the trap that the U.S. has set in the Lebanon refugee camps".

He also called on Beirut to "support the Palestinian refugees and enhance Lebanese-Palestinian coordination with a view to preventing such security breaches”.

"Such violence only serves the U.S. project, which wants to resettle Palestinian refugees in their host countries,” he said.

Lebanon currently hosts some 400,000 Palestinian refugees in 12 camps located throughout the country, in which armed clashes occur sporadically.