ANI Photo | Landmark maritime agreement reached between Lebanon and Israel could have important ramifications

Nicosia [Cyprus], October 29 (ANI): The landmark maritime border demarcation deal, achieved with US mediation, signed last Thursday between Israel and Lebanon, could have important ramifications in the relations between the two countries that have technically been at war for decades and could at the same time allow the two countries exploit and export natural gas from their respective gas fields to Europe.
US Special Presidential Coordinator Amos Hochstein has clinched the deal between Lebanon and Israel – the relevant indirect negotiations have been going on intermittently for more than 10 years- drawing a border between the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the two countries on the basis of a boundary line known as Line 23.
Under the agreement, Lebanon is awarded 840 square kilometres of the previously disputed area but promises to pay royalties to Israel for a section of its Qana field that extends to Israel’s EEZ, and Beirut recognizes Israel’s claims to the Karish gas field. In this way, Israel retains full rights to develop the Karish field while Lebanon retains full rights in nearby Qana.
It is remarkable that the agreement was signed at the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in the border Lebanese town of Naqoura, without the two negotiating teams coming into contact. It was previously signed in Beirut by Lebanese President Michel Aoun and later by Israeli Minister Yair Lapid. Amos Hochstein oversaw the signing by the heads of delegations in Naqoura.
Another remarkable point is that the mandate of both Aoun and Lapid expires at the end of this month. Israel on November 1st is having elections and it is extremely difficult to predict who will emerge as the winner and who can garner enough support in the Israeli Parliament to form a government. In Lebanon, the Parliament on October 24 failed for the fourth time to elect a candidate to replace Aoun.
Amos Hochstein said: “What matters today is what will happen after the agreement, and I believe that it will be an economic turning point for Lebanon. Signing such an agreement will bring stability to the region and will allow TotalEnergies to begin its work, which nothing will hinder, and no one will take the oil and gas revenues from the Lebanese. The most important thing in the agreement is that it serves both sides and it is not in their interests to violate it.”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, after signing the maritime demarcation deal at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, stressed that the agreement was just a technical issue with no political meaning. “Lebanon is still in a state of war with Israel,” he said and added: “The completion of the demarcation of the southern maritime borders is a technical work that does not have any political dimensions or effects that contradict Lebanon’s foreign policy in its relations with other countries.”
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid described the deal as a “political achievement” for his country.
“The maritime deal is a political achievement for Israel as we don’t see an enemy state like Lebanon recognizing Israel in a written agreement every day,” he said. Earlier, Lapid said the maritime agreement “staves off” war with Hezbollah.
It should be noted that last September Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the powerful pro-Iranian Hezbollah Group, upon learning that there would be a test run at the Israeli-operated Karish gas field, called the extraction of gas from that field a “red line”. He ominously added: We are following up on the negotiations (aimed at finding a deal between Lebanon and Israel) and all our eyes are on Karish and our missiles are locked on Karish.”
After the announcement that a deal was reached between the two countries, Nasrallah said: “We consider what happened a great victory for Lebanon. The resistance’s exceptional mobilization against Israel is now over. Mission accomplished.”
Undoubtedly, the Israeli Prime Minister scored a big success with the deal, as he has averted a possible clash with Hezbollah over Karish and as well troubles with Lebanon, but on the home front he had to deal with the opposition of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who claimed that the deal could benefit Hezbollah and accused Lapid of evading the scrutiny of the Israeli Parliament.
US President Joseph Biden described the deal as “historic,” as it resolves Israeli and Lebanese claims to natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and “sets the stage for a more stable and prosperous region.”
Mathios Rigas, the Chief Executive Officer of the London-based Energean hydrocarbon company, said that the first gas from Karish has been delivered after receiving the green light from the Israeli government.
Karish is estimated to contain 2.4 trillion cubic feet (68 billion cubic metres) of natural gas.
“We have delivered a landmark project that brings competition to the Israeli gas market, enhances the security of energy supply in the East Med region and brings affordable and clean energy that will displace coal-fired power generation, making a material impact on the environment,” Rigas said.
Experts say that the deal reached between Israel and Lebanon does not specify what royalties Israel will receive in the future from the Lebanese Qana field, after several years when production starts. This could create a serious problem, as it happened in the case of Cyprus and Israel, where negotiations on profit distribution of the Aphrodite-Yishair joint reservoir, have been stalled for years.
Whatever the few detractors of the agreement say, the deal between Israel and Lebanon can be described as ‘historic” as it settled an apparently irresolvable dispute that could easily escalate into hostilities.
Moreover, it brings a ray of hope for Lebanon can dream of some economic relief from hydrocarbon revenues and could help Europe alleviate its energy shortages in part.
After all, the US Geological Survey has identified the Eastern Mediterranean seabed as holding some of the vastest fossil fuel deposits in the world. (ANI)

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This report is filed by ANI news service. TheNewsMill holds no responsibility for this content.

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