‘Historic surrender’: Lebanon deal marks first time Israel cedes territory without support of Knesset

This is the first time an Israeli government gives away territory without the support of the Knesset, and the first time a minority government does so,” says legal expert, adding that “this is Hezbollah’s demand to prevent war.”

By World Israel News Staff

In an announcement Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Yair said Israel and Lebanon had settled a “historic” deal that will “inject billions into Israel’s economy” and resolve a long-running maritime border dispute.

He said that the final draft of the U.S.-brokered agreement met Israeli demands.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying, “We have not compromised and will not compromise on a single ‘millimeter’ that is critical to our security. The agreement is progressing despite threats by Hezbollah, which attempted to destroy the process.”

When Lapid announced the original agreement last week, Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, among others, objected, saying the prime minister was caving to the demands of the Lebanon-based, Iran-funded Hezbollah terror organization.

Commenting on the revised agreement, Eugene Kontorovich, an expert on International Maritime Law and director of International Law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, which petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court against the original deal, noted that “this is the first time Israel has ceded territory over which it has declared sovereignty — unlike Sinai, Gaza, etc. This is the first time an Israeli government gives away territory without the support of the Knesset, and the first time a minority government does so.”

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Furthermore, he said, “Transferring any national territory requires Knesset approval in Israeli law, as well as the constitutions of countries from the U.S. to Egypt. The reason the government claims it must do this now, before elections or a Knesset vote, is that this is Hezbollah’s demand to prevent war. This means Hezbollah now overrides Israel’s democracy.”

“This is not a historical agreement, this is a historical surrender,” Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu charged.

Notwithstanding Lapid’s announcement, it is unclear if the deal will be signed by the October 20 deadline because of an earlier High Court of Justice ruling that Lapid’s caretaker government must respond to a petition calling for a Knesset vote on the deal on the basis that an interim government cannot approve it during an election period.

Biden pressed for agreement with ‘enemy state’

In a JNS op-ed arguing against the deal even before Tuesday’s announcement, prominent analyst Caroline Glick wrote:

“It is almost impossible to grasp the danger of Israel’s present moment. A month before the Knesset elections, the caretaker government led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz is moving full speed ahead with a maritime agreement with an enemy state that it insists will obligate Israel in perpetuity.”

Noting the Biden administration’s role, Glick said that during the U.S. president’s visit to Israel in July, “just days after Hezbollah’s drone attacks on Karish, Biden upped U.S. pressure on Israel to conclude a deal with Lebanon and so enable the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese government to begin raking in billions of dollars in gas revenues from the Qana field. U.S. pressure only increased since then.”

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According to Glick, “Rather than stand up to the administration and oppose a deal that empowers Hezbollah both economically and strategically at Israel’s expense, the Lapid-Gantz government caved.

President Biden congratulated Lapid in a telephone conversation Tuesday evening, telling the Israeli premier, “You are making history.” Lapid, in turn, expressed gratitude to Biden for mediating the agreement.