Jack Khoury and Jonathan/Haaretz: Lebanon to Reportedly Refuse Israeli Demand for Maritime Security Zone/جاك خوري وجوناثان/هآرتس: طبقاً للتقارير فإن لبنان سيرفض المطالب الإسرائيلية بمنطقة أمنية بحرية


جاك خوري وجوناثان/هآرتس: طبقاً للتقارير فإن لبنان سيرفض المطالب الإسرائيلية بمنطقة أمنية بحرية
Lebanon to Reportedly Refuse Israeli Demand for Maritime Security Zone
Jack Khoury and Jonathan/Haaretz/October 04/2022

The Lebanese government said it will not agree to establish any security zone within its maritime border nor give up any territory.

With a deal appearing imminent, Lebanon reportedly stresses it will not hold any signing ceremony with Israel, while a source says Lapid ‘will not compromise’ on the country’s security and economic interests.

The Lebanese government said it will not agree to establish any security zone within its maritime border nor give up any territory at sea, Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Tuesday, in reference to a section in the U.S. proposal regarding the regulation of the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon.

An Israeli government official said in response to the Lebanese report that Prime Minister Yair Lapid “will not agree to compromise the security and economic interests of the State of Israel. We are waiting to receive the comments officially from competent authorities in order for us to know if and how to move forward.”

Another report in Al-Akhbar clarified that Lebanon’s government does not recognize Israel’s ‘buoy line’ – a 5 kilometer long buffer zone that stretches from the beach into the Mediterranean Sea sitting slightly north of the proposed maritime border – marked by Israel for security purposes.

The American proposal will be based on Line 23, which is located north of the maximal version that the Lebanese put forward some years ago. The Karish gas field is located southwest of the line, meaning that it will remain under complete Israeli control. The northeastern field, Kana, will go to the Lebanese. Israel might receive compensation in return for Lebanon’s use of a small part of the gas field in its territory.

Additionally, it was also reported that Lebanon will not agree to hold an official signing ceremony for the agreement, as the U.S. and Israel want. According to the publication, if there is an agreement, it will be delivered to the UN representative in the presence of the American mediator Amos Hochstein in a room without an Israeli representative, and after signing on the Israeli side the agreement will enter into force immediately.

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It was also reported that the Lebanese government will not negotiate the demarcation of the land border, and any discussion on the issue will require UN involvement.

Al-Akhbar further reported that the Lebanese government will not agree to link the drilling contract it signed with the French company Total Energy in its offshore territory with Israel. The drilling will be carried out according to the interests and needs of Lebanon, regardless of the drilling taking place in the Karish gas field. If both countries approve the agreement, it will be passed to the United Nations in order to be validated according to international law.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has threatened on numerous occasions this summer to target Israeli drilling operations, on the grounds that Israel was infringing on Lebanon’s maritime rights. However, Nassrallah said on Saturday that the Lebanese government will make the ultimate decision on the dispute over a maritime border with Israel.

In July, the IDF downed four Hezbollah drones in the area of the offshore field, on two separate occasions. They are thought to have carried cameras, not explosives, but their launch was interpreted as a threat against Israel.

The division will enable Lebanon to finally start to exploit its gas potential. The Lebanese economy is in dire needs of this injection of encouragement, and the hope in Jerusalem is that the positioning of two platforms opposite each other will bring about long-term restraint in the northern arena.


Related Reports From The Israeli Media

Lebanon agreement: Israel gives up its piece of the pie – analysis
Lahav Harkov/Jerusalem Post/October 04/2022
Why is Israel giving up the entire zone in dispute – something concrete – in exchange for theoretical promises and things it already has?
Israel and Lebanon have been in an ongoing dispute for the past decade over the economic rights to an area of the Mediterranean Sea shaped like a slice of pizza. Israel is giving up the entire zone in dispute – something concrete – in exchange for theoretical, amorphous promises and things it already has.
Israel’s security needs
Prime Minister Yair Lapid presented the deal on Twitter on Monday as giving Israel “100% of its security needs, 100% of the Karish Reservoir and even part of the earnings of the Lebanese reservoir.” When Lapid says “security needs,” he is referring to several things. The most solid security benefit of the deal is recognition of the “buoy line,” a 5-km-long row of floating obstructions extending from the point along the Mediterranean Sea at which Israel and Lebanon meet. The buoys help secure the northernmost points on Israel’s shores. The agreement is supposed to include recognition of that line and get the UN Interim Force in Lebanon off of Israel’s back about it. However, the “buoy line” has never been a huge issue, even if Lebanon or UNIFIL would occasionally kvetch. And having the Lebanese government sign an agreement with the US – they’re not co-signing anything with Israel – doesn’t do much for Israel’s security, because the threat from Lebanon is not the Lebanese Army as much as it is Hezbollah. And since when does Hezbollah care about international agreements?
Why is Israel willing to compromise?
The other security advantage of the deal that Lapid presented is that by helping Beirut become a natural gas exporter and improve its economy, it will “will weaken Lebanon’s reliance on Iran, will restrain Hezbollah and will bring regional stability.” That is a theory that is a frequently-heard refrain in Israel’s security establishment when it comes to the Palestinians: Give them something to lose, and they will behave more peacefully to protect it. The theory shouldn’t be knocked entirely, but historically, its results for Israel have been mixed. As such, this can only be hope for the deal, not an achievement or result improving Israel’s security at this point. What Lapid understandably does not want to admit, but gave away in his remarks about Israel retaining 100% of the Karish Reservoir, is that this deal is trying to buy quiet from Hezbollah. As talks between Israel and Lebanon advanced earlier this year and Karish licensee Energean set up a gas rig, the Iran-backed terror group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, grew bolder in his threats against the Israeli natural gas field, even sending drones – which Israel shot down – to fly over it. Throughout, Lapid, Energy Minister Karin Elharrar and their ministries insisted that Karish is not up for negotiation. But now Lapid is presenting its retention as an achievement of the talks. In other words, for Lapid, the talks were, in fact, about protecting Karish, and like governments led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu allowing suitcases full of cash to be sent into Gaza to buy temporary quiet from Hamas, Lapid was willing to take a calculated risk and pay a price to try to put Karish out of Hezbollah’s sights. Lapid also mentioned in his tweet that Israel would get “part of the earnings of the Lebanese reservoir.” The Kana gas field juts out beyond the pizza-slice disputed area into Israeli waters, coming very close to Karish. It is within “Line 29,” a broader disputed area – a wider slice of pizza – that Lebanon put on the table in early 2021, which Israel rejected and was never the actual basis of negotiations. As former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman described it on Twitter, the not-yet-extant royalties deal would mean “that Israel gets royalties only on drilling within its own sovereign territory – that’s beyond the scope of the maritime dispute with Lebanon.” Israel is negotiating to get paid for what is already rightfully Israel’s. In addition, due to the ongoing dispute, Lebanese licensee Total Energy has never actually been able to check if and how much hydrocarbons are in Kana. The estimate is that it is a small-to-medium reservoir, but there remains a chance that Israel will get little to nothing in terms of economic compensation. Israeli negotiators were wise enough not to rely on Lebanon, an enemy state with a failed economy, to pay up. The Energy Ministry is still working out a deal with Total for the French-owned company to pay Israel for the percentage of the area that is in Israeli waters. And then there’s the very fact that Israel is conceding the entire area in dispute.
Former Energy Minister Steinitz attacks the deal
“The way things look matters,” former Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, told The Jerusalem Post this week, and he argued that it looks like Israel is a pushover. As energy minister when renewed negotiations took place in 2020 and early 2021, Steinitz was in favor of negotiating with Lebanon to allow both sides to move forward and develop their gas fields and noted that opposing the outcome of the deal is not the same as opposing the talks when they were ongoing. Steinitz recounted that, in 2012, the US first attempted to negotiate the maritime line issue, proposing the “Hoff Line,” which would have given Lebanon 55% of the pizza slice and Israel 45%, with each able to extract gas on their own side. The former minister was willing to be flexible and for Israel to take as little as one-third of the disputed zone when he was the minister. “What kind of negotiation is it if they get 100% and we get zero?” Steinitz asked. “That is wrong and it’s a dangerous precedent.” Israel is involved in negotiations with Cyprus over the Aphrodite-Yishai gas reservoir, as well, 10-12% of which is in Israeli waters. Cyprus already had a firm stance in the talks, and the result of the Lebanon negotiation could indicate to Nicosia that they can get Israel to give up. Meanwhile, Lapid and his associates have tried to paint a rosy picture of the deal, with only advantages. “Lebanon is not getting 100% of what it wanted,” a senior diplomatic source said on Sunday, praising the deal in fainter terms than he had probably intended. It’s understandable that politicians don’t want to present the weaknesses of their policies, especially less than a month before an election. But the fact that Israel is giving up its piece of the pizza pie is too obvious to obfuscate with political spin.

Lebanon opposes parts of proposed maritime agreement with Israel -report
Jerusalem Post/October 04/2022
Lebanon has three major issues with the agreement proposed by Israel. * Lapid will not agree to compromise on the security and economic interests of the State of Israel.
Lebanon is opposing several clauses in the draft agreement with Israel on the maritime border, according to Lebanese media. According to the reports, Lebanon will present its response to the American envoys, which may be an obstacle to the signing of the agreement. The Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that the country would refuse to grant Israel the right to search for gas in the disputed territory. According to an official in the Prime Minister’s Office, Lapid will not agree to compromise on the security and economic interests of the State of Israel. “We are waiting to receive the comments officially from authorized parties so that we know if and how to move forward,” the official said. According to Lebanese reports, Lebanon has three major issues with the agreement proposed by Israel. First, Lebanon allegedly does not accept the “security strip” proposed by Israel and flatly refuses to “establish a security zone for the enemy.” The buoy line, which is not currently recognized, will remain as it is. The second objection is the idea of demarcating the continental borders, and the refusal to conduct negotiations on these borders within the current agreement. Lebanese officials further stated that “negotiations of this type will be subject to discussion only with the UN, as it is happening now in the negotiations on the marking of the maritime borders.” “Negotiations of this type will be subject to discussion only with the UN, as it is happening now in the negotiations on the marking of the maritime borders.”Third, according to Lebanese reports, Lebanon rejected any attempt to tie the work of the “Total Energy” company to Israel, and wants the company to be related to the direct needs of Lebanon, committed to the work of drilling exploration in Lebanese territory, independent of any discussion with Israel. The country also announced the desire for the “Total” company to start operating at the same time as the work in the Karish field. Another issue Lebanon has presented is holding an official ceremony in Ankara, “as the Israeli and American sides want,” the Al-Akhbar newspaper claimed. The newspaper stated that “in case of agreement, Lebanon will sign the letter, which will be delivered to the UN representative in the presence of the American mediator, and this will happen in a separate room from the room where the Israeli delegation is located. Only after that, the US will be able to inform Israel that the agreement has been signed and will come into effect immediately.” Three key principles presented by Israel. The comments from Lebanon were reported after the agreement that was taking shape had already been published, in which three key principles were supposed to be determined. The first of these is the recognition of the Israeli security line – the buoy line, which was never confirmed, is now proposed to be recognized officially. The line has never been enshrined in law until now, being decided by a unilateral decision, the meaning of approving it as such is to treat it as the territorial border line with Israel. Another principle in the emerging agreement allows Israel to reach compensation for its rights in the territory it possesses – when the Lebanese will pay for the part of the Kana gas field that is in Israeli territory. The third part of the agreement states that an economic agreement should be reached within the disputed area and not outside of it, allowing the Lebanese to hold rights to the reservoir up to the southern line of the disputed area – line 23, not 29 as they demanded.

Chances of Hezbollah war ‘still remain very high’ – US envoy
Mike Wagenheim/Senior U.S. Correspondent, i24NEWS/October 04, 2022
Israel-Lebanon maritime border proposal ‘does nothing to lower or alleviate tensions along the blue line’
Former US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told i24NEWS that the chances of an Israeli-Hezbollah confrontation “still remain very high” despite the advancement of a US-brokered maritime border agreement between Israel and Lebanon. The proposal “does nothing to lower or alleviate tensions along the blue line where Hezbollah is digging in,” Schenker said in an interview with i24NEWS senior US political correspondent Mike Wagenheim that aired Tuesday. The New Jersey native served in the position during the administration of former US president Donald Trump from 2019 to 2021, during which he was assigned as the point man on the Israel-Lebanon maritime border negotiations. The current draft proposal was formed under the mediation of the State Department’s senior advisor for energy security, Amos Hochstein. Schenker said that it appeared that Israel agreed to give the Lebanese “100 percent” of what they wanted, while pointing out that the Qana gas field that would be under control of Lebanon contains “very little reserves.” He said that the administration of US President Joe Biden can claim a foreign policy win with the deal and a success in promoting regional stability, while cautioning that questions still remain about long-term calm. “I think the United States, even the Biden administration, is doing this out of a desire to help stabilize the region, although it is unclear if it will be the outcome.”

Israel-Hezbollah deal slammed as ‘shameful surrender’ to Iran-backed terror
Critics of the pending deal have panned it as a dangerous capitulation to Iran’s terror proxy.
World Israel News Staff/October 04/2022
Israel and Lebanon are on the cusp of signing a U.S.-brokered deal to resolve a maritime border dispute, a move that has been hailed by Hezbollah’s terror chief and slammed by critics as deeply flawed.
Hassan Nasrallah on Saturday said that Lebanon would be the ultimate decision-maker regarding the U.S.-drafted agreement, which he said was “positive.”
Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the proposal safeguards Israel’s security-diplomatic interests, as well as its economic interests.
“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 said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
“We do not oppose the development of an additional Lebanese gas field, from which we will of course receive the share we deserve. Such a field will weaken Lebanon’s dependence on Iran, restrain Hezbollah and promote regional stability,” he went on.
The deal would pave the way for the extraction and production of energy from the offshore Karish gas field, which has been the subject of a fierce disagreement over the two nations’ maritime borders.
However, critics have slammed the deal as surrendering to Hezbollah, with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu saying Israel was gifting millions to the Iran-backed terror group.
“Lapid shamefully surrendered to Nasrallah’s threats,” Netanyahu said. “He is giving Hezbollah sovereign territory of the State of Israel with a huge gas reservoir.”
“He did it without discussion in the Knesset and without a referendum. Lapid has no mandate to hand over territory and sovereign revenues to an enemy state,” he added.
Professor Eugene Kontorovich, director of international law at the Kohelet Policy Forum, told World Israel News that Lapid’s caretaker government was “engaging in a going out of business sale on sovereign Israeli territory.”
He slammed Israel’s government for capitulating to the Biden administration’s whim and “thumbing their noses at Israeli constitutional law,” and went on to claim that Lapid was using the agreement to score points before November’s national election.
“The proposed natural gas agreement between Israel and Lebanon represents a total capitulation to Hezbollah, and a transfer of sovereign Israeli territory to an Iranian puppet state,” he said.
“As the people of Iran fight for their freedom, Israel is surrendering to Tehran via Beirut without even getting an acknowledgement of its existence in return, let alone peace,” he went on.
After being proposed and rejected a decade ago, the deal is being rammed through, just weeks before the Israeli elections,” Kontorovich said, “because the Biden Administration and Hezbollah understand the desperation and weakness of the Lapid-Bennett government.”
Due to Lebanon’s refusal to recognize Israel, the two countries never agreed on a formal demarcation of their maritime borders. The issue had little significance until the discovery of valuable gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean in recent years.
Israel has stated that Karish is entirely within Israeli waters, but Lebanon — which is currently suffering from an unprecedented economic crisis — claims that the gas field is partially located within its territorial waters.
The disagreement has sparked a long standing dispute over which country has the right to authorize and profit from its gas production, which appears to be finally coming to an end.
Amos Hochstein, a former Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs to the American government, has been the mediator between Israel and Lebanon in a months-long attempt at shuttle diplomacy.