Israel praises US plan for Lebanon maritime border deal | Hezbollah News

Israel praised the US proposal to resolve its maritime border dispute with Lebanon, building further momentum towards an agreement between the two countries that are still technically at war.

Draft agreement floated by US Special Envoy Amos Hochstein aims to settle competing claims to offshore gas fields and was delivered to Lebanese and Israeli officials over the weekend.

Lebanese authorities, who confirmed they had received the terms, have pledged to respond “as quickly as possible”, following a series of recent announcements from Beirut that the deal with Israel was nearing its end. end.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told his cabinet on Sunday that the US proposal “strengthens Israel’s security and Israel’s economy”.

His government is “discussing the final details, so it’s not yet possible to hail a done deal,” Lapid said.

“However, as we requested from the outset, the proposal protects Israel’s entire diplomatic-security interests, as well as our economic interests.”

Lebanon and Israel have no diplomatic relations and their land borders are patrolled by the United Nations.

They have reopened negotiate on their maritime border by 2020, but the process has stalled due to Lebanon’s request to amend the map used by the UN in the negotiations.

Progress continued after Lebanon appeared to revise its position, particularly regarding the Karish natural gas field, which Israel claims as its territory and is not open to negotiations.

The head of the powerful Shia Lia movement Hezbollah, Hasan Nasrallah, has threatened Israel with attacks if it starts production from Karish.

But Nasrallah on Saturday called the US proposal “a very important step”.

‘Notice of irresponsibility’

Lapid said Israel had been looking for an agreement with Lebanon “for over a decade”.

He added that his government “has no objection to the development of one more gas field in Lebanon, from which we will of course get the share we deserve” – ​​an explicit reference to Qana mine, may be subject to the proposed US revenue sharing mechanism.

“Such an area would weaken Lebanese dependence on Iran, contain Hezbollah and bring stability to the region,” Mr. Lapid said.

Hochstein’s proposal will be submitted for final approval after a legal review, he said.

Progress on the deal comes ahead of Israel’s November 1 election, their fifth vote in less than four years.

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch foreign policy advocate seeking to return to power, warned that the right-wing government he plans to form after the vote could undo any deal. . “If this illegal scheme passes, it won’t compel us,” he said.

Netanyahu accused Lapid of “giving Hezbollah territory under Israeli sovereignty with a huge gas field belonging to the Jewish state, without specifying which Israeli waters he believes are surrendering.

Israel and Hezbollah fought for 34 days in 2006. Netanyahu said that Lapid had “shamefully surrendered to Nasrallah’s threats”.

Lapid hit back, accusing Netanyahu of making “irresponsible announcements” that undermine Israel’s “security interests”.

‘Invest in our gas’

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who also aspires to be elected prime minister in less than a month, said Mr Netanyahu’s criticisms were uninformed and dangerous.

“I ask Netanyahu… to request an orderly update on the subject before he adds fuel to Nasrallah propaganda, which has jeopardized and still jeopardizes the deal,” Gantz said in a statement. Father.

Gantz also said the deal, if it were finalized, would be presented to parliament and passed on to the Israeli public.

It remains unclear whether such a deal would require congressional approval, where Lapid does not have a majority.

The Justice Department said late Sunday that it was still reviewing the deal and the legal issues that came with it.

With Lebanon’s economy in shambles, Hezbollah has pledged to abide by whatever Beirut agrees to in indirect negotiations.

“We support Lebanon’s position that we defend our right to demarcate our maritime borders and invest in gas,” the Lebanese state news agency quoted senior Hezbollah official Mohammad Raad as saying.


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