1664730771 PM The proposal for a maritime border agreement in Lebanon

PM: The proposal for a maritime border agreement in Lebanon safeguards Israel’s security interests

Prime Minister Yair Lapid confirmed Sunday that Israel had received a long-negotiated US proposal to settle its maritime border dispute with Lebanon, saying the plan would protect Israel’s regional interests.

The United States delivered the written plan to Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Saturday.

Speaking to ministers at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Lapid said the looming deal safeguards Israel’s interests, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

“We’re in talks on the final details,” Lapid said, warning that it’s still too early to consider the deal final.

“We are not against the development of another Lebanese gas field, of which we will of course get our due share,” Lapid said.

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“Such a field will weaken Lebanon’s dependence on Iran, restrain Hezbollah and promote regional stability,” he said.

Report Lebanon sea border deal almost done as Israel offers

Energean’s floating production system (FPSO) at the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean. (Energy)

But he insisted that “as we have demanded from day one, the proposal fully safeguards Israel’s diplomatic and security interests, as well as our economic interests.”

“For more than 10 years, Israel has been trying to reach this agreement that strengthens Israeli security and the Israeli economy,” Lapid said.

Aoun met with US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea on Saturday and received US mediator Amos Hochstein’s written proposal for the demarcation of the sea border with Israel.

Lebanese state media said the government was working quickly to formulate a response to the plan.

The proposed text is not approved for publication.

PM The proposal for a maritime border agreement in Lebanon

Lebanese President Michel Aoun (L) receives a proposal from US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea to settle a maritime border dispute with Israel, October 1, 2022 (Lebanese Presidency)

The naval dispute affects some 860 square kilometers (330 sq mi) of the Mediterranean Sea, including lucrative offshore gas fields.

US-brokered talks over rights to the area, the subject of long-running but indirect negotiations between Jerusalem and Beirut and repeated threats from the Hezbollah terrorist group, have made headway in recent weeks.

The talks began under the auspices of the previous government headed by then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu on Sunday accused that “Lapid has no mandate to hand over sovereign territories and sovereign assets belonging to all of us to a hostile state.”

Netanyahu also said Lapid had “given in to Hezbollah’s threats” and that if he were to form a government after the Nov. 1 elections, he would not be bound by the deal.

Lapid responded in a tweet addressing Netanyahu directly, saying: “For 10 years you have failed trying to bring about this deal, at least do not harm Israel’s security interests and do not help Hezbollah with irresponsible messages. “

Defense Secretary Benny Gantz also commented on Netanyahu’s comments, accusing the opposition leader of being guided by “irresponsible political considerations”.

“We will continue to look after the political, security and economic interests of the State of Israel in a responsible and statesmanlike manner,” he tweeted.

Tensions rose after Israel moved a gas exploration vessel to the controversial Karish gas field earlier this year and recently said it would start producing from the site. Last month, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened that his Iran-backed terrorist organization’s missiles were “stuck” on Karish.

1664730765 956 PM The proposal for a maritime border agreement in Lebanon

An Israeli Sa’ar Class 4.5 missile boat guards Energean’s floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage released by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

However, in a televised address on Saturday, Nasrallah said the US draft deal opens “new and promising horizons for the people of Lebanon by rescuing the country from the crisis it has fallen into.”

According to a report by Channel 12, the location of the proposed border will be a compromise between the two sides as part of the looming deal. According to the report, Lebanon will be able to drill for gas five kilometers north of Israel’s Karish gas rig.

An unnamed security official told the network that Israel’s security interests are guaranteed by the draft proposal.

Saturday’s TV report followed talks held by Lapid over preparations to extract gas from the Karish field, amid Hezbollah threats to attack Israel if it starts drilling there before a sea border agreement is reached.

Lebanon claims the Karish gas field is in a disputed area, while Israel says it is within its internationally recognized economic waters.

Last month, Lapid’s office pledged that Israel would extract gas from Karish, with or without a deal at the sea border with Lebanon.

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