Friday, 12 Aug 2022 - 15 of Av, 5782

Israeli Energy Minister: “For the first time in 30 years, civil-political negotiations between Israel and Lebanon will take place”

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

The  maritime border dispute between Israel and Lebanon has been ongoing for decades, but became more urgent following natural-gas discoveries in the Mediterranean Sea.

The talks will start around 12 October and will be held at the UNIFIL headquarters in the southern border town of Naqoura.

Bahrain has congratulated the two sides, with the official Bahraini news agency stating this was an important step that could lead to direct negotiations between Lebanon and Israel to advance stability, peace and prosperity in the region.

Israel and Lebanon have announced their intention to participate in U.S.-mediated talks, with the aim of settling their maritime border dispute.

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri made the announcement Thursday after Israel announced the talks last Saturday. Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz will lead the Israeli delegation.

The talks will start around 12 October and will be held at the UNIFIL headquarters in the southern border town of Naqoura.

Steinitz said that “for the first time in 30 years, civil-political negotiations between Israel and Lebanon will take place.”

He added that talks can progress quickly but will be dependent on the willingness of the Lebanese side, noting “this is a dispute of only six kilometres… the dispute is not over a large area”.

“Our goal is to bring an end to the dispute between Israel and Lebanon over the demarcation of the Exclusive Economic Zones, to assist in the development of natural resources for the benefit of all the peoples of the region,” he said.

The dispute has been ongoing for decades, but became more urgent following natural-gas discoveries in the Mediterranean Sea.

Washington has engaged in efforts to bring the two sides to the table ever since Israel requested U.S. assistance in the matter in 2011.

“Our goal is to bring an end to the dispute between Israel and Lebanon over the demarcation of the Exclusive Economic Zones, to assist in the development of natural resources for the benefit of all the peoples of the region,” he said.

Berri emphasized, however, that agreement had only been reached on a framework for talks.

“This is a framework agreement and not a final one,” said Berri, according to Reuters.

While the United States would push for an agreement as soon as possible, he said, the agreement on a framework was reached prior to Washington’s move to impose sanctions on his aide and right-hand man, Ali Hassan Khalil.

Khalil was sanctioned for corruption and financially supporting the Shi’ite Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, according to the report.

Pompeo welcomed the announcement on Thursday, tweeting: “We welcome today’s announcement by Israel and Lebanon on their agreement to begin discussions on the maritime boundary. This offers the potential for greater stability, security and prosperity for citizens in both nations.”

Israel and Lebanon have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war. They each claim about 860 square kilometres (known as Block 9) of the Mediterranean Sea as within their own exclusive economic zones.

The US has been mediating between Lebanon and Israel since 2010 until a breakthrough was reached in July on the framework for the indirect talks, Berri said. In 2012 Israel offered to hand over to Lebanon, as a compromise, over 50 per cent of Block 9. The Lebanese refused.

The reason for talks now, Steinitz says, is because “the Lebanese have realised that they are lagging behind. They are in a severe economic crisis, even before the explosion in the port of Beirut, and are unable to properly develop their potential gas fields because companies are reluctant to act in disputed areas. ”

Alex Fishman of Yedioth Ahronot writes: “Over the course of the past year, the Lebanese economy has crashed. The need to arrive at a quick arrangement that will enable the start of gas explorations, which could fill the treasury of the state and of Hezbollah, has become urgent. The potential of off-shore gas is the only asset that Lebanon can present today as a guarantee for receiving economic aid from the world.”

Two years ago, the Security Cabinet in Israel tasked Steinitz with leading a team of representatives from the ministries of energy, foreign affairs, and justice, as well as representatives from the National Security Council, to define Israel’s interests and negotiation demands.

Bahrain has congratulated the sides, with the official Bahraini news agency stating this was an important step that could lead to direct negotiations between Lebanon and Israel to advance stability, peace and prosperity in the region.

Share.

About Author

Leave A Reply