Favorable welcome from Israel to a project on the maritime border with Lebanon

by Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The Israeli government on Sunday gave its first favorable opinion on a draft maritime border agreement with Lebanon drawn up under the aegis of the United States, a text which could pave the way for a sharing between the two countries of income from the exploitation of gas fields in the Mediterranean.

US envoy Amos Hochstein last week submitted a new proposal to Israel on a dossier considered one of the potential sources of conflict between the two countries.

Beirut has not yet given its opinion on this ten-page project, the details of which remain confidential. But on Saturday, Hezbollah, supported by Iran, spoke of “a very important step” and the speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, an ally of the Shiite party, deemed it “positive”.

The Israeli agreement remains subject to a detailed legal examination, specified the Prime Minister, Yaïr Lapid, during the Council of Ministers.

“But,” he said, “as we have emphasized from day one, the project fully preserves Israel’s national security interests, as well as our economic interests.”

He hinted that his country and Lebanon could conclude an agreement providing for the extraction of gas in the Mediterranean by a company holding a Lebanese license in the disputed area of ​​Qana, while Israel would receive part of the revenue.

“We are not opposed to the development of an additional Lebanese gas field, from which we could of course collect the royalties to which we are entitled,” said the head of the Israeli government. “Such a field would reduce Lebanon’s dependence on Iran, restrain Hezbollah and contribute to stability in the region.”

Yair Lapid’s main opponent for the November 1 legislative elections, Benjamin Netanyahu, believes that an agreement with Lebanon could strengthen Hezbollah and on Sunday he hinted that he could cancel a possible agreement if he won the elections.

“We will not be bound by this fait accompli,” he said on Twitter.

(Report Dan Williams, with Timour Azhari in Beirut, French version Marc Angrand)

Source link -87