‘You’re making history’ – Biden praises Lapid, Lebanese PM for maritime deal

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened that if “the president announces that Lebanon’s official position supports the agreement, then, for us… things are settled.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

President Joe Biden phoned Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Tuesday to congratulate the countries on their maritime border agreement, which will pave the way for gas drilling in an offshore field in the Mediterranean Sea.

“You are making history,” Biden told Lapid, and then congratulated the team of Israeli negotiators, according to a statement from the Israeli premier’s office.

In a statement, Biden stressed his administration’s role in brokering the talks, announcing that “after months of mediation by the United States, the governments of Israel and Lebanon have agreed to formally end their maritime boundary dispute and establish a permanent maritime boundary between them.”

Biden said that the agreement “will provide for the development of energy fields for the benefit of both countries, setting the stage for a more stable and prosperous region, and harnessing vital new energy resources for the world.

He added that “it is now critical that all parties uphold their commitments and work towards implementation.”

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The gas deal has proved controversial in both Israel and Lebanon. A number of Israeli and U.S Republican politicians, including former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have charged that Israel granted too many concessions to the Lebanese in order to secure the deal.

At a security cabinet meeting Wednesday afternoon, Lapid summarized the deal, saying, “There is importance and urgency in reaching the maritime agreement between Israel and Lebanon, at this time. The members of the Security Cabinet express their support for the Government of Israel to advance the agreement.”

All members voted in support of his summary with the exception of Minister of the Interior Ayelet Shaked, who abstained.

Netanyahu called the deal a “historic surrender.” Others have insinuated that Lapid caved to U.S. pressure to agree to a deal that is unfavorable to Israel.

Anti-Israel sentiment is strong in Lebanon, and numerous public figures have expressed their rejection of a deal of any kind with the Jewish State.

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Hezbollah terror group, said that if “the president announces that Lebanon’s official position supports the agreement, then, for us… things are settled.”

Some critics have raised doubts around Lapid’s legal authority to move forward with an agreement this long-term in nature, as the current government is transitional and the premier is technically a caretaker.

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Lebanon is currently mired in an unprecedented economic collapse, which has seen their currency essentially lose all of its value and millions of citizens plunged into poverty.

Hezbollah’s tolerance of a deal with Israel is likely due to the agreement potentially injecting billions of much-needed dollars into the economically struggling country.