Lapid: Proposed maritime border deal with Lebanon safeguards security, economic interests

Under the terms of the emerging accord, Israel will be able to exploit the Karish natural gas field, according to the Israeli premier.

By JNS

A pending agreement to solve Israel and Lebanon’s long standing maritime border dispute answers all of the Jewish state’s security and economic requirements, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Sunday.

Addressing the weekly Cabinet meeting, the Israeli premier said that the two countries were discussing the “final details” of the agreement, though he noted that “it is not yet possible to praise a done deal.”

The deal’s 10-page draft, “as we have demanded from the start … safeguards Israel’s full security-diplomatic interests, as well as our economic interests.”

The Prime Minister stressed, “We do not oppose the development of an additional Lebanese gas field, from which we will of course receive the share we deserve,” then adding, “Such a field will weaken Lebanon’s dependence on Iran, restrain Hezbollah and promote regional stability.”

The United States on Saturday submitted to Lebanese President Michel Aoun a formal proposal to end the dispute, which has been ongoing for more than a decade.

Under the terms of the emerging accord, the Jewish state would be free to exploit the Karish natural gas field, said Lapid. “Money will flow into the state’s coffers and our energy independence will be secured. This deal strengthens Israel’s security and Israel’s economy,” he added.

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The proposal will reportedly allow Lebanon to develop the contested Qana gas field, while Israel’s claims over the Karish deposit would be recognized.

Israel recently set up a rig at Karish, where gas was reportedly set to begin flowing in September but was delayed in order to give the talks more time, and amid repeated threats of war by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah.

The proposal is currently undergoing legal review, after which it will be submitted to a government forum for discussion and approval. According to Hebrew media reports, a Knesset vote could take place as soon as Thursday.

World Israel News staff contributed to this report.