Israel and Lebanon have reached a U.S.-mediated agreement settling a long-running maritime border dispute and delineating the two countries’ economic waters in the Mediterranean Sea.
The deal, which has the potential to unlock additional natural gas production in the Mediterranean at a time of global energy flow disruptions, was finalized on Oct. 11, according to both Israeli and Lebanese officials.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement that the deal is a “historic achievement that will strengthen Israeli security, will bring billions to Israel’s economy and ensure stability on the northern border.”
The office of Lebanese President Michel Aoun said in a statement that “the final version of the offer satisfies Lebanon, meets its demands and preserves its rights to its natural resources.”
Details of the agreement were not immediately available, with Aoun saying he hopes the terms will be announced soon.
Gerald Steinberg, founder and president of NGO Monitor and professor emeritus at Israel’s Bar Ilan University, said in a statement on Twitter that, if the deal holds, “it is indeed historic.”
“A rare case of placing shared interests over ideology, and signaling weakened Iranian control,” he added.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, took to Twitter to say that, until the terms of the agreement are made public, it will be difficult to formulate accurate assessments.
“Some say it’s great, some say it’s terrible. I just have one question: what are the specific terms of the deal? Absent disclosure, the discussion is childish and meaningless,” he said.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that a Security Cabinet meeting would be convened on Oct. 12, followed by a special government meeting at which the agreement will be put forward for executive branch approval. The agreement will later be presented to Israeli lawmakers in the Knesset.
Lapid issued a statement thanking U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein, with CNN reporting that Hochstein delivered Israel’s final offer to Lebanese negotiators hours before the deal’s success was announced.
Talks culminating in Tuesday’s landmark deal entered their final stretch last week when a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem told Reuters that the two sides were “at a critical stage in the negotiations and the gaps have narrowed.”
Top Lebanese negotiator Elias Bou Saab told Reuters on Oct. 6 that the deal was “90 percent done but the remaining 10 percent could make it or break it.”
Israeli media reported that the main sticking point was over Lebanese recognition of a line of demarcation buoys Israel has placed out to sea from its coast.
Lebanon, which does not officially recognize the state of Israel, was reportedly concerned about any action that might be seen as a formal acceptance of a shared land border.
Experts say any settlement of the land border dispute between Israel and Lebanon would likely need to come as part of a broader peace deal that is still a ways off.
Reuters contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times