Israel, Lebanon signal maritime border deal in uncommon diplomatic feat By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Fishermen catch fish, in Naqoura, close to the Lebanese-Israeli border, southern Lebanon, October 11, 2022. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/File Photograph

By Maya Gebeily and Maayan Lubell

BAABDA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli and Lebanese leaders signed a landmark U.S-brokered settlement on their maritime boundary on Thursday, marking a diplomatic departure from a long time of hostility and opening the best way to offshore power exploration.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun signed a letter approving the deal in Baada, adopted by Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s signature in Jerusalem, with a handover ceremony of less-senior delegations set to happen on the UN peacekeeping base in Naqoura alongside the border.

Lapid hailed the deal as a “large achievement” and Lebanese negotiator Elias Bou Saab mentioned it marked the start of “a brand new period” between the 2 sides, which nonetheless stay technically at struggle.

The accord removes one supply of potential battle between Israel and Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah and will assist alleviate Lebanon’s financial disaster.

After assembly Lebanon’s speaker of parliament Nabih Berri, Amos Hochstein, the U.S. envoy who mediated the negotiation, informed reporters he expects the settlement to carry even amid adjustments in management in each nations.

Hochstein referred to each upcoming elections in Israel on Nov. 1 and the tip of Aoun’s time period on Oct. 31, saying the accord must be saved up “no matter who’s elected very quickly as subsequent president of Lebanon”.

An offshore power discovery – whereas not sufficient by itself to resolve Lebanon’s deep financial issues – can be a serious boon, offering badly wanted onerous forex and probably someday easing crippling blackouts.

Whereas Lebanon and Israel have each voiced satisfaction with having settled a dispute peacefully, prospects for a wider diplomatic breakthrough seem distant.

“We now have heard in regards to the Abraham Accords. Right this moment there’s a new period. It could possibly be the Amos Hochstein accord,” Saab mentioned, referring to the 2020 U.S.-brokered normalisation of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Lapid mentioned: “It isn’t each day that an enemy nation recognises the state of Israel, in a written settlement, in view of the worldwide neighborhood,” Lapid informed his cupboard in broadcast remarks.

Aoun nevertheless performed down any wider breakthrough and mentioned in a press release that the deal “has no political dimensions or impacts that contradict Lebanon’s international coverage”.

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