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In Lebanon, legislation will give Palestinians full employment rights

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Palestinians given fuller right to work
  • The laws will go into effect when the president endorses them
  • There are more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon
  • The legislation could alter the communal balance in Lebanon
  • Lebanon

(CNN) -- The Palestinian refugees in Lebanon will be able to work in places they've never been allowed to work before under legislation passed Tuesday by Lebanon's parliament.

The body OK'd legislation giving the refugees full employment rights and social security, according to the press office of Nabih Berri, the parliament's speaker.

The changes would take effect when two pieces of legislation are signed by the president of the republic, Michel Suleiman, who has a period of two weeks to one month to endorse them.

This would be the first time people in the 400,000-plus Palestinian refugee community, who dwell in refugee camps, would be able to work in any job that is open to foreigners.

Refugees have been able to get good educations in Lebanon, but traditionally the work outlet for many of them was, for example, labor abroad.

The legislation could have implications for ethnic and religious relations in Lebanon, home to Christians, Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and Druze.

The refugees, largely Sunni Muslim, could find themselves in competition with others. Some think this could lead to the naturalization of the Palestinians, a development that could alter the balance of power there.

Palestinian refugees fled or were forced from their homes in the longstanding conflict between the Arabs and Israel since the late 1940s.

CNN's Ben Wedeman contributed to this report