Samira and several members of her family contributed funds for the purchase, in instalments over seven years, of a flat in Wad al-Zeineh, a Palestinian gathering, or informal settlement, close to the southern Lebanese city of Saida. In 2001 the Lebanese parliament passed a law barring all those who do not have nationality of a recognised state from owning property, thus preventing the family from registering the contract of sale with Lebanon’s land registry.
Samira’s family have been advised to register the property in the name of a Lebanese national but are reluctant to do so after having heard of Lebanese taking advantage of Palestinians, evicting them from houses they have paid for or passing them on to relatives upon the death of the registered owner.
Another option is to register the house in the name of a sister who has Jordanian nationality and is thus exempt from the ban on Palestinian property ownership. Samira thinks this would not be fair to her brother who was instrumental in buying the house and who paid the highest share.
“We have not asked for legal advice – for what? I have asked other people, but the answer is always the same – register in the name of a Lebanese person and you will own it. If my mother dies now, the state will come and take the flat. The property law is a problem for all the Palestinians in Lebanon. My mother always prays that she will still be alive by the time this law is changed.”