Israel and Lebanon on Thursday signed a landmark agreement where they set their borders in the Mediterranean Sea. These two countries have been technically at war for decades but this maritime border demarcation deal will allow both nations to profit by exporting natural gas from their respective gas fields.
#UPDATE Lebanese armed group Hezbollah will end an "exceptional" mobilisation against Israel after threatening to attack for months, its leader Hassan Nasrallah (pic, left) said on Thursday after Lebanon and Israel struck a maritime border deal ▶️ https://t.co/0qP3WLLWSx pic.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 looking to exploit to extract gas for their domestic use and export.
A border has been drawn between the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the two countries on the basis of a boundary line known as Line 23. The deal allows Israel to have full access to Karish, an offshore field and it also recognizes Lebanon’s claim to the Qana, a prospective gas field.
Beirut said that some of the revenue they earn from Qana will go to Israel as parts of it lie within Israel’s waters as it was awarded 840 square kilometres of the previously disputed area.
The ramifications of this deal are far-reaching. As these adversaries signed the deal, Hezbollah, backed by Israel’s arch-nemesis Iran, said they will end ‘exceptional’ mobilisation against Israel after the Lebanon sea border deal.
Also it resolves Israeli and Lebanese claims to natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean Seam, at least to some extent, given that before the deal Hezbollah warned Israel by saying that it has its missiles locked in on the Karish natural gas reserve.
The deal was not signed at a joint ceremony. US Special Presidential Coordinator Amos Hochstein who helped broker the deal and represented the US - who is a guarantor - was present in Baabda presidential palace where President Michel Aoun signed the deal.
Israel Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed the deal separately in Jerusalem.
The deal is crucial 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 and said the deal has no political implications but the deal will also help Lebanon tackle the economic crisis to some extent. It also removes one source of potential conflict between Israel and Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Lapid, who is heading into an election next week, said: “It is not every day that an enemy state recognises the State of Israel, in a written agreement, in front of the entire international community.”
However, threats to the deal still remain. Lapid’s rival and former Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu said the deal was an ‘illegal ploy’ and could end up benefiting Hezbollah while pledging he would not be bound by its terms.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon’s powerful armed group Hezbollah, on Thursday called it a “very big victory for Lebanon" but also pointed out his satisfaction with the Lebanese government over the fact that it remained careful to ensure that the negotiations had no hint of “normalisation" of ties with Israel.
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