Lebanon, Israel, and the US reach ‘historic’ deal
In a statement, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said he was satisfied with the deal, which should end to territorial disputes. Two huge deposits in the eastern Mediterranean are at stake, one of which, Qana, belongs to Lebanon. The deal will not be a treaty, but will be accepted at the United Nations. A small number of Lebanese lawmakers are critical of the agreement.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – After US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Lebanese President Michel Aoun Thursday evening called the agreement to demarcate the maritime boundary between Lebanon and Israel an ‘historic success”, adding that Lebanon gained "the entire Qana field without paying any compensation”.
In its own way, having both Lebanon and Israel use the same adjective acknowledges the major effort by United States, especially US mediator Amos Hochstein, to achieve a win-win situation and pre-empt any challenges from diehards on both sides of the border.
Speaking Thursday evening on Lebanon's LBC TV channel, US mediator Amos Hochstein said that the deal is "an agreement that could be credited for preventing chaos and further conflict throughout the region” and ensure "economic prosperity for Lebanon, an assurance from conflict, securing Israel's northern borders", which he said would translate to "no war between Israel and Lebanon".
The arrival in Lebanon of Laurent Vivier, director of Oil Exploration and Production for Totalenergies, gave more credibility to the deal, as the French multinational is expected to explore the Qana field. Mr Vivier was met by Prime Minister Nagib Mikati, who asked him to start exploration work without delay.
President Joe Biden spoke with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday to congratulate them on reaching the agreement, which, a White House press release hailed as "a historic breakthrough".
The work behind the deal was a race against time rarely seen in the history of diplomacy. The US mediator was fully committed to reaching an agreement acceptable to both parties before Israel’s parliamentary election on 1 November.
In Israel, the full cabinet gave its thumbs up to the deal after the smaller security cabinet voted in favour; now it will go to the Knesset (Israeli parliament) for consideration.
In order to avoid that the agreement be given the status of a full treaty, and thus be accused of normalising relations with Israel, Lebanon will simply sign it in Ras al-Naqoura, under the supervision of UNIFIL and US officials, and then sent to the United Nations in New York for approval.
In Lebanon’s parliament, some have spoken out against this approach, demanding that the agreement be made public and scrutinised by parliament, especially since both Lebanon and Israel have stressed that it would stabilise the border area.
The agreement specifies that for the section of the Qana field that lies within Israeli territorial waters, Israel will receive compensation from the operator Totalenergies, levied exclusively from the share of royalties collected by the oil giant.
With regard to the "buoy line", the agreement provides that the area it demarcates, as well as the land borders between Lebanon and Israel, be discussed independently of the maritime boundary agreement, with each country sticking to their current position.