Lebanon and Israel Reach 'Historic' Maritime Border Deal

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Lebanon and Israel reach “historic” agreement on their maritime border

Drillship from London-based Energean begins drilling in the Karish natural gas field off Israel in the eastern Mediterranean , May 9, 2022.

After intense negotiations under the aegis of the United States, Israel announced on Tuesday that it had reached a “historic” agreement with Lebanon to delimit their maritime border and remove key obstacles to the exploitation of deposits. gas in the eastern Mediterranean.

The two neighbors had expressed their satisfaction with the draft agreement at the beginning of October, but Israel had affirmed, last Thursday, its refusal to a series of ;Lebanese amendments, which had dampened hopes.

Negotiations continued and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced a historic agreement on Tuesday, without disclosing its content.

The agreement will strengthen the security of Israel. Israel, inject billions [of euros] into the Israeli economy and ensure the stability of our northern border [with Lebanon], Lapid said.

The text must be presented on Wednesday to the Israeli security cabinet, then to the entire government and to Parliament, which may have to decide on it.

According to information from press and officials, he foresees that the offshore Karish deposit will be under Israeli control and that the Cana reserves, located further northeast, will be granted to Lebanon. But as part of this deposit exceeds the future demarcation line, the Jewish state would receive a share of the future income from the exploitation of Cana, according to these sources.

US President Joe Biden congratulated Lebanon and Israel, hailing a historic step forward.

It is now essential that all parties keep their commitments and work to put in place the x27;agreement, urged Mr Biden who said he spoke on the phone to his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun and Mr Lapid.

Beirut accepted the deal in its English version, but said to wait to study the Arabic text to give its official position.

President Aoun is expected to speak by Wednesday, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said.

The Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid

The presidency had previously considered that the final version of the text was satisfactory, met Lebanon's demands and [preserved] its right to its natural resources.

This announcement comes 20 days from the end of the mandate of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a deadline coinciding with the Israeli legislative elections of November 1, which could confirm the return to power of Benjamin Netanyahu with his allies from the ultra-Orthodox parties and the far right.

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Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

He This is not a historic agreement, but a historic capitulation, he commented on Tuesday, accusing Mr. Lapid of caving in to pressure from the Lebanese armed movement Hezbollah and of its leader Hassan Nasrallah, who is due to speak on Tuesday evening.

Whoever capitulates to Nasrallah cannot be prime minister, Netanyahu insisted, repeating his threat not to honor the deal if he returns to power.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz hailed Lebanon's decision to support a positive deal for both sides, despite Hezbollah's threats to torpedo it.

Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech Tuesday night that Hezbollah would support the deal if it is officially approved by the Lebanese government.

If the president announces that the position Lebanon's official backs the deal, so for us…things are settled, he said, saying gas wealth was the only door to prosperity for the crisis-hit country. /p>

In a context where the European Union seeks to diversify its gas supplies due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Israel is counting on Karish, ready to go into production, to boost its deliveries to the Old Continent.

On Sunday, the company Energean, listed in London and mandated to exploit the deposit, announced the start of tests to connect it to Israeli territory, a key step towards the production.

In July, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid raised the issue with French President Emmanuel Macron, hoping to see Paris use its influence to facilitate an agreement with Beirut, to x27;as much as the French Total is expected to explore the Cana deposit.

But unlike Karish, this deposit is still far from being able to be activated and must be the subject more prospecting.

One ​​of the main Lebanese negotiators, Elias Bou Saab, assured Tuesday that there had been an agreement between Total and the Israelis under which the latter could receive compensation from the energy giant and not from Lebanon.

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