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Israel, Lebanon strike ‘historic’ maritime border deal

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Israel and Lebanon struck a US-brokered maritime border agreement Thursday that opens up lucrative offshore gas fields for the neighbours that remain technically at war.

US President Joe Biden hailed the “historic” deal that comes as Western powers clamour to open up new energy ¬†production and reduce vulnerability to supply cuts from Russia.

“Both parties took the final steps to bring the agreement into force and submitted the final paperwork to the United Nations in the presence of the United States,” Biden said in a statement.

“Our mission is complete,” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

The exchange of letters was held in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqura, in the presence of US mediator Amos Hochstein and UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka, who will now deposit the new maritime coordinates at the UN headquarters in New York.

Biden said that “energy — particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean — should not be a cause for conflict, but a tool for cooperation, stability, security and prosperity.

Hours before signing it, Lapid had claimed that Lebanon’s intention to ink the deal amounted to a de-facto recognition of the Jewish state.

Aoun denied Lapid’s assertion, countering that “demarcating the southern maritime border is technical work that has no political implications”.

Veteran right-winger and longtime premier Benjamin Netanyahu has his sights set on a comeback and he dismissed the maritime deal as an “illegal ploy” early this month.


Lebanon meanwhile will have full rights to operate and explore the so-called Qana or Sidon reservoir, parts of which falls in Israel’s territorial waters, with the Jewish state receiving some revenues.

With demand for gas rising worldwide because of the energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Lebanon hopes that exploiting the offshore field will help ease its financial and economic crisis.

Exploration has so far only been tentative — a 2012 seismic study of a limited offshore area by the British firm Spectrum estimated recoverable gas reserves in Lebanon at 25.4 trillion cubic feet, although authorities in Lebanon have announced higher estimates.

Hezbollah leader Nasrallah said that the deal “is not an international treaty and it is not a recognition of Israel,” while hailing it as a “great victory for Lebanon”.

On July 2, Israel said it had downed three drones launched by Hezbollah that were headed towards the offshore field of Karish.

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2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

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