Prime Minister Yair Lapid was briefed on the details of the significant changes Lebanon is seeking to introduce to its draft maritime border agreement with Israel, and asked the Israeli negotiating team to reject them. According to a senior diplomatic source, Lapid made it clear that Israel would not compromise on its security and economic interests, even if it means there will be no deal in the near future.
The source added that Israel will produce gas from the Karish field as soon as possible. “If Hezbollah or anyone else tries to hit the Karish gas platform or threaten us, negotiations on the maritime border will cease immediately, and Hassan Nasrallah will have to explain to Lebanese citizens why they have no gas rig and no economic future,” the source said.
According to Lebanese reports, the Lebanese government’s objections to the draft agreement relate to: the unacceptability of the wording that formalizes the “line of buoys” with which Israel has marked its border with Lebanon as an international border; the issue of financial compensation to Israel for its share of the Qana/Sidon gas field, which straddles the proposed border between the two countries’ exclusive economic zones – the Lebanese are seeking to untie the agreement on a compensation mechanism and the start of exploratory drilling In the field; refusal of a joint signing ceremony.
The result of Israel’s rejection of Lebanon’s latest demands is likely to be another trip to the region for US mediator Amos Hochstein. Yesterday, Hochstein spoke with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati after receiving Lebanon’s amendments to the agreement. Mikati himself said in an interview with Lebanese media that the deal would otherwise prevent a certain war.
The diplomatic source’s remarks should be understood in the context of the internal debate in Israel, and within the coalition itself, about the deal. Justice Minister Gideon Saar, apparently with the backing of Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, wants the deal presented to the Knesset, and it is not yet clear whether Bennett will veto it in government.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – October 6, 2022.
© Copyright Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.