The Origins of Popular Opposition to Palestinian Resettlement in Lebanon



Using original public opinion data, this study addresses the reasons behind the growing popular opposition to Palestinian resettlement in Lebanon. It argues that the origins of this opposition are correlated to the religious composition of the population and to the degree of social distance displayed by the Lebanese towards the Palestinians as members of a distinct community. The results revealed that Lebanese respondents are much less likely to support Palestinian resettlement in Lebanon if they display prejudice and hostility toward Palestinians. In addition, sectarian affiliation is a major predictor of attitude toward resettlement. Specifically, Christian and Shii respondents expressed unfavorable views toward resettlement, in contrast to Sunni and Druze respondents who manifested positive support for resettlement. Hence, for most Lebanese the question of Palestinian resettlement extends to their own political survival. If the existing attitudes hold, resettlement threatens to undermine Lebanon's pluralist character and consensus political arrangement, with implications for the entire region.