Israel and Lebanon signed a landmark agreement on Thursday, placing their borders in the Mediterranean Sea. The two countries have been technically at war for decades, but this maritime demarcation agreement will allow both nations to profit from exporting natural gas from their gas fields.
#UPDATED Lebanese armed group Hezbollah will end an “unusual” military exercise against Israel after months of threatening an attack, its leader Hassan Nasrallah (pictured left) said Thursday after Lebanon and Israel reached an agreement on a maritime border ▶️ https ://t.co/ 0qP3WLLWSx photo.twitter.com/alT9GKX09W
— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 27, 2022
There are two gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea bordering Israel and Lebanon. Karish and Qana are gas fields that the countries are seeking to exploit to extract gas for domestic use and export.
A border has been drawn between the two countries’ economic zones based on a boundary line known as Line 23. The agreement allows Israel full access to Karish, an offshore area, and also recognizes Lebanon’s claim to Qana, a prospective gas field.
Beirut said part of the revenue it earns from Qana will go to Israel as parts of it lie within Israeli waters where it received 840 square kilometers of the previously disputed area.
The implications of this agreement are far-reaching. When those opponents signed the deal, Hezbollah, backed by Israel’s arch-enemy Iran, said it would end “extraordinary” mobilization against Israel after the deal on Lebanon’s borders.
It also resolves Israeli and Lebanese claims to natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, at least to some extent, given that before the deal Hezbollah warned Israel that it had its missiles locked up in the Karish natural gas reserves.
The agreement was not signed at a joint ceremony. US Special Presidential Adviser Amos Hochstein, who helped broker the agreement and represented the US – which is the guarantor – was present at the Baabda Presidential Palace where President Michel Aoun signed the agreement.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed the agreement separately in Jerusalem.
The agreement is important for both Lapid and Aoun. Aoun, whose term is set to end on Monday, will ensure the deal remains a major achievement during his tenure.
He has maintained his stance, saying the deal has no political impact, but the deal will also help Lebanon deal with the economic crisis to some extent. It also removes one source of potential conflict between Israel and Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah.
Lapid, who is heading to the polls next week, said: “It is not every day that an enemy state recognizes the State of Israel, in a written agreement, in front of the entire international community.”
However, threats to the agreement remain. Lapid’s rival and former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deal was an “illegal ploy” and could end up benefiting Hezbollah, while vowing he would not be bound by its terms.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, head of Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah armed group, said on Thursday it was a “very big victory for Lebanon” but also expressed his satisfaction with the Lebanese government for remaining cautious in ensuring that the talks had yielded nothing. introduce on the “normalization” of relations with Israel.
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