Self-styled Palestinian refugees. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90) (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Palestinian refugees

While Palestinians say they number in the millions worldwide, an examination of the facts shows their claims are wildly exaggerated. 

The first official census of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon reveals that there are only 174,422 Palestinians living in Lebanon, a figure almost two-thirds less than previously claimed.

The Palestinians, including original refugees from seven decades ago and their descendants, were believed to number about 450,000, but tens of thousands have ostensibly emigrated from Lebanon over recent decades, supposedly seeking better opportunities.

The census released Thursday was conducted by the Lebanese Central Administration of Statistics and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

Lebanon took in some Palestinians who fled after Israel’s creation in 1948. Their numbers are a touchy issue in that country, where they are seen as potentially upsetting the delicate sectarian balance.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the census has ended speculation about the exact numbers.

The Unique Palestinian Refugees

The issue of the so-called Palestinian refugees is sensitive. The Palestinians claim they number in the millions worldwide. In fact, an examination of the numbers shows these claims are wildly inflated.

The Palestinians have a unique definition for their status as refugees.The number of Palestinian refugees has been vastly inflated by the fact that refugee status is passed on to succeeding generations and is unaffected by citizenship from other countries, in contrast to the definition of refugee status for every other refugee population in the world.

For instance, the vast majority of the “refugees” in Jordan, more than two million, are citizens of Jordan who identify as Palestinian.

Israel has argued for years that the UN and the Palestinians are working to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem and oppose any attempt to seek a solution.

Furthermore, the Palestinians’ status as refugees ensures an endless flow of international aid and has financial ramifications.

so-called Palestinian refugee receives quadruple the amount of aid that a Syrian, Iraqi or African refugee receives from the United Nations.

The study, released in September, shows that in 2016, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides assistance solely to Palestinian refugees, spent an average of $246 for each of the 5.3 million Palestinians it defines as refugees, while the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spent only a quarter of that, $58 per refugee, on non-Palestinians.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff