Israel, Lebanon strike maritime border deal

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The agreement is meant to resolve a territorial dispute in the eastern Mediterranean Sea in an area where Lebanon aims to explore for natural gas…reports Asian Lite News

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced on Tuesday that a deal has been reached with Lebanon to demarcate a maritime border between the two countries, which have been in an official state of war since 1948, and that the cabinet would be convened later Tuesday to approve it.

While the agreement has to be formally approved in both countries, In Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said the terms of the final US proposal were satisfactory, the Gulf News reported.

Aoun tweeted that “the final version of the offer satisfies Lebanon, meets its demands and preserves its rights to its natural wealth”.

Meanwhile, Israel Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the deal was “a historic achievement that will strengthen Israel’s security, inject billions into Israel’s economy, and ensure the stability of our northern border.”

The agreement is meant to resolve a territorial dispute in the eastern Mediterranean Sea in an area where Lebanon aims to explore for natural gas.

It sets a border between Lebanese and Israeli waters for the first time and also establishes a mechanism for both countries to get royalties from an offshore gasfield that straddles the boundary.

After fifteen months of talks held under United Nations (UN) auspices and mediated by American energy envoy Amos Hochstein, a draft agreement was finally presented to the Lebanese government on Monday night.

The Institute for National Security Studies, a Tel Aviv University think tank, called the deal a “win-win situation”. “An agreement between Israel and Lebanon will mark a fundamental positive change in relations between the two countries … and it may open the door to further changes in the future relationship between them,” it said in a report.

Lebanese authorities were trying to end a dispute with Israel over maritime borders, which has escalated after Israel on June 5 sent a vessel to the Karish field, which Israel claims is within its economic zone, while Lebanon claims in disputed waters.

A major point of dispute between Israel and Lebanon was Lapid’s announcement that Israel will receive some of the revenues from Lebanese extraction in the Qana field, located partially in the disputed area.

Israel has inserted a carefully worded clause, saying that the Qana field that Lebanon would get contains valuable natural resources, which cannot be abandoned for free. It is demanding co-sharing of gas revenue, once uncovered in the Qana field. Lebanon insists that it cannot pay money to the Israeli government, which it technically does not recognise. A last-minute agreement was reached with the French oil giant Total, which will handle drilling in Qana. Israel’s reimbursement will be from Total, and won’t be deducted from Lebanon’s gas or revenue, the Gulf News reported.

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