Lebanon, Israel agree maritime border deal, Israel says

  • American envoys are making indirect contacts to seal the deal
  • Lebanon and Israel have a history of conflict
  • A deal can find energy, reduce stress

BEIRUT/JERUSALEM, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Lebanon and Israel have reached a historic agreement to demarcate their disputed maritime border, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Tuesday.

While limited in scope, the agreement would make significant compromises between states with a history of war, open the way for offshore energy exploration and reduce a source of recent tensions between the states.

“This is a historic achievement that will strengthen Israel’s security, inject billions into Israel’s economy and ensure the stability of our northern border,” Lapid said in a statement.

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Lebanese President Michel said earlier that the terms of the final draft received from US envoy Amos Hochstein satisfied Lebanon and he hoped the deal would be announced as soon as possible, the president said in a statement seen by Reuters.

Israel’s National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata also previously gave a positive assessment:

“All our demands have been met, the changes we asked for have been corrected. We have protected Israel’s security interests and we are on the way to a historic agreement,” he said in a statement.

Hochstein is shuttling between parties with no diplomatic ties.

The heavily armed, Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah has not commented on the details of proposals for full indirect talks, but has said it agrees with the Lebanese government’s position.

Hezbollah leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, whose group has fought several wars with Israel, has also warned of escalation if Lebanon’s maritime rights are not secured. Nasrallah is scheduled to speak later on Tuesday.

Earlier, Lebanese negotiator Elias Bo Saab told Reuters that Hochstein’s “efforts could lead to a historic agreement” if all goes well.

Lebanon felt the latest draft “takes into account all Lebanon’s needs and we believe the other side should feel the same way”, he said.

While Israel has advanced in production and exports, Lebanon’s efforts have been stalled by political dysfunction.

The gas discovery will be a huge boon for Lebanon, which has been in economic crisis since 2019. Eventually, such a discovery could remedy Lebanon’s longstanding failure to generate enough electricity for its population.

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Reporting by Taimur Azri and Laila Bassam in Beirut; Death of Lubel in Jerusalem; Written by Taimur Azari/Tom Perry; Edited by Leslie Adler, Chris Rees, Raju Gopalakrishnan, Philippa Fletcher

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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