Lebanon, Israel agree maritime border deal

October 12, 2022 by AAP J-Wire
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Lebanon and Israel have reached a historic agreement demarcating a disputed maritime border between them, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid says.

President Joe Biden (L) and PM Yair Lapid sign the Jerusalem Declaration. (Koby Gideon/GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid gives a statement to the media after a farewell ceremony for U.S. President Joe Biden at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on July 15, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

While limited in scope, a deal would mark a significant compromise between states with a history of war, opening the way for offshore energy exploration and easing a source of recent tensions between states.

“This is a historic achievement that will strengthen Israel’s security, inject billions into Israel’s economy, and ensure the stability of our northern border,” Lapid said in a statement.

Lebanese President Michel said earlier that the terms of the final draft received from US envoy Amos Hochstein satisfied Lebanon and he hoped the deal would be announced as soon as possible, the presidency said in a statement seen by Reuters.

Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata earlier also gave a positive assessment:

“All our demands were met, and the changes that we asked for were corrected. We protected Israel’s security interests and are on our way to a historic agreement,” he said in a statement.

Hochstein has been shuttling between the sides which have no diplomatic relations.

The heavily armed, Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah has not commented on details of proposals throughout the indirect negotiations but has said it would agree to the Lebanese government’s position.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, whose group has fought numerous wars with Israel, has also repeatedly warned of an escalation if the deal does not secure Lebanon’s maritime rights. Nasrallah is due to make a address later on Tuesday.

Earlier, Lebanese negotiator Elias Bou Saab told Reuters that if everything went well, Hochstein’s “efforts could imminently lead to a historic deal”.

Lebanon felt the latest draft “takes into consideration all of Lebanon’s requirements and we believe that the other side should feel the same”, he said.

While Israel has moved ahead with production and export, Lebanon’s efforts have been hamstrung by political dysfunction.

A gas find would be a major boon for Lebanon, which has been mired in financial crisis since 2019. Eventually, such a discovery could fix Lebanon’s long-standing failure to produce adequate electricity for its population.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid spoke with the President of the United States, Joe Biden.

President Biden began by congratulating Prime Minister Lapid on the historic agreement with Lebanon on a maritime boundary, after a decade of attempts. President Biden told Prime Minister Lapid: “You are making history.”

The President thanked the entire Israeli team that took part in the talks and expressed his appreciation for their trust and confidence.

The leaders discussed the importance of the agreement, which will ensure Israel’s security on its northern border and strengthen the Israeli and Lebanese economies.

Prime Minister Lapid thanked President Biden for his leadership and for America’s mediation of the maritime negotiations between Lebanon and the Israeli negotiating team. The Prime Minister expressed special appreciation for the American mediator, Amos Hochstein, for his intensive and effective work.

Additionally, Prime Minister Lapid thanked the American team, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council, Brett McGurk.

President Biden emphasized to Prime Minister Lapid his commitment to Israel’s security and regional stability. The President also added that the two leaders’ ability to work together and reach this agreement is a testament to the strong and unbreakable bond between the two leaders themselves and between Israel and the United States.

The leaders agreed to remain in close and regular contact.


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