Friday, 2 Dec 2022 - 8 of Kislev, 5783

Lebanese President: Maritime deal with Israel doesn’t constitute recognition

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Michel Aoun, who is a Maronite Christian and former army chief, heads the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which is allied with the pro-Iranian Shiite Hezbollah terror group. He ended his presidential mandate on Sunday. Aoun’s six-year term was marred by mass protests, a painful economic downturn and the August 2020 mega-explosion of ammonium nitrate that killed hundreds and laid waste to swaths of Beirut.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said that the maritime border deal forged with Israel does not constitute recognition by Beirut of Israel, after Prime Minister Yair Lapid suggested as much.

In a statement issued after he signed a letter approving the terms of the agreement, Aoun said it would have “no political dimensions or impacts that contradict Lebanon’s foreign policy.”

Aoun, who is a Maronite Christian and former army chief, head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which is allied with the pro-Iranian Shiite Hezbollah terror group. He ended his presidential mandate on Sunday. Aoun’s six-year term was marred by mass protests, a painful economic downturn and the August 2020 mega-explosion of ammonium nitrate that killed hundreds and laid waste to swaths of Beirut.

Lapid signed the U.S.-mediated accord with Lebanon last Thursday, following its approval by the Cabinet earlier in the day.

“This agreement strengthens Israel’s security and our freedom of action against Hezbollah and the threats to our north,” he said, adding that “everyone has signed off on this agreement and its contribution to Israel’s security and our operational needs.”

Lapid also suggested that by agreeing to the deal, Lebanon, an “enemy country,” was effectively recognizing Israel.

The agreement draws a border between the two countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs) based on a boundary known as Line 23, and awards a disputed area of around 840 square kilometers (324 square miles) to Lebanon, while recognizing Israel’s claim to the Karish gas field and to royalties from the section of the Qana field that extends into the Jewish state’s EEZ.

Israel and Lebanon remain technically at war.

Lapid signed the U.S.-mediated accord with Lebanon last Thursday, following its approval by the Cabinet earlier in the day.

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