Israel says Lebanon and Israel agree on maritime border agreement

  • The American envoy is making indirect contacts to conclude the deal
  • Lebanon and Israel have a history of conflict
  • The deal will allow energy exploration and relieve the source of tension

BEIRUT/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Tuesday that Lebanon and Israel had reached a historic agreement to demarcate a disputed maritime border between them.

Although the scope of the agreement is limited, the agreement could represent an important compromise between countries with a warlike history, open the way for offshore energy exploration and relieve the source of recent tensions between countries.

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

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The Lebanese presidency said in a statement seen by Reuters that President Michel said earlier that the terms of the final draft received by US envoy Amos Hochstein satisfy Lebanon and that he hopes to announce the agreement as soon as possible.

Earlier, Israeli National Security Adviser Eyal Holata gave a positive assessment:

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

Hochstein shuttles between the parties that do not have diplomatic relations.

The heavily armed and Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah did not comment on the details of the proposals during the indirect negotiations, but said it would agree with the Lebanese government’s position.

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Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, whose group has fought numerous wars with Israel, has also repeatedly warned of escalation if the agreement does not secure Lebanon’s maritime rights. Nasrallah is scheduled to speak later on Tuesday.

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

He said Lebanon felt that the latest draft “takes into account all Lebanon’s requirements and we believe that the other side should feel the same.”

While Israel pushed forward with production and export, Lebanon’s efforts faltered due to political dysfunction.

The gas discovery would be a huge boon for Lebanon, which has been mired in a financial crisis since 2019. Ultimately, such a discovery could fix Lebanon’s long-standing failure to produce enough electricity for its residents.

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(Reporting by Taymour Al-Azhari and Laila Bassam from Beirut). Mayan Lobel in Jerusalem. Written by Timur Azhari / Tom Perry and Mayan Lobel. Editing by Leslie Adler, Chris Reese, Raju Gopalakrishnan, Philippa Fletcher

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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