Lebanese president contradicts Lapid, no recognition of Israel after deal, still at war

Michel Aoun says the agreement does not “contradict Lebanon’s foreign policy,” with Jerusalem and Beirut remaining technically at war.

By JNS and World Israel News Staff

Lebanese President Michel Aoun clarified on Thursday that the maritime border deal forged with Israel does not constitute recognition by Beirut of Israel, after Prime Minister Yair Lapid suggested as much.

In a statement issued after he signed a letter approving the terms of the agreement, Aoun said it would have “no political dimensions or impacts that contradict Lebanon’s foreign policy.”

Lapid signed the U.S.-mediated accord on Thursday, following its approval by the Cabinet earlier in the day.

“This agreement strengthens Israel’s security and our freedom of action against Hezbollah and the threats to our north,” he said, adding that “everyone has signed off on this agreement and its contribution to Israel’s security and our operational needs.”

Lapid also suggested that by agreeing to the deal, Lebanon, an “enemy country,” was effectively recognizing Israel.

The agreement draws a border between the two countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs) based on a boundary known as Line 23, and awards a disputed area of around 840 square kilometers (324 square miles) to Lebanon, while recognizing Israel’s claim to the Karish gas field and to royalties from the section of the Qana field that extends into the Jewish state’s EEZ.

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A ceremony took place in the afternoon at the United Nations base in Naqoura, located along the Israel-Lebanon border, to be attended by members of the Israeli, Lebanese and U.S. negotiating teams.

Israel and Lebanon remain technically at war and the delegations did not appear together at the ceremony.

Lapid met at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv with U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein Thursday evening.

“Amos, I want to thank you and your crew for all the great work — nothing less than great work — in making the deal between us and Lebanon happen,” Lapid told Hochstein.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without you and without the support of President Biden who was there for us all the way. His commitment to Israel is deeply appreciated and your commitment to the whole process is deeply appreciated.”