Aoun: Negotiations for demarcating maritime borders at final stages
The Lebanese President says talks are ongoing in a way that guarantees Lebanon’s rights in drilling for gas in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Monday that negotiations related to the demarcation of the maritime border with the Israeli occupation are in their final stages.
During his meeting with the United Nations Special Coordinator in Lebanon, Joanna Wronecka, Aoun indicated that "The negotiations to demarcate the southern maritime borders are now in their final stages," adding that "Talks are ongoing in a way that guarantees Lebanon’s rights in drilling for gas in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone."
The Lebanese President indicated that communication with the US mediator Amos Hochstein is continuing on some technical details related to the demarcation process.
Aoun expressed his hope that exploration in Lebanese waters will contribute to reviving the Lebanese economy, which has witnessed a significant decline during the past years, as well as enhancing security and stability in the south.
US mediator made new proposal to Lebanese-Israeli maritime issue
Earlier, Haaretz said that the United States made an offer to the Israeli occupation and Lebanon to solve the maritime border issue. The proposal is reportedly linked to the path the Lebanese-Israeli maritime borders will follow.
"The US mediator in the maritime borders talks, Amos Hochstein, during his regional visit last week, made a settlement proposal regarding the outstanding issues between Israel and Lebanon regarding the demarcation of the borders along line 23 and the Qana field," Haaretz reported.
The newspaper said that following the new US proposal, political and security figures in "Israel" seemed optimistic about reaching a final settlement to the dispute over the borders.
The settlement proposal, Haaretz said, asked to change and adjust line 23 toward Lebanon instead of near the coast in order to allow for a "bigger defensive area against possible threats from the sea, near the coastline."
The Israeli outlet clarified that the political leadership in "Tel Aviv" was ready to make concessions with regard to Qana and believed that the main achievement would be the stabilization of ties between the two parties in the sea, as well as preventing an escalation related to this issue in the future.
Coordination between UNIFIL & Lebanese Army
In a related context, Aoun reiterated Lebanon's commitment to international resolutions, especially Resolution 1701, pointing to the importance of implementing all its components.
The Lebanese President considered that coordination between the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese army is necessary to ensure the success of the mission of maintaining security and peace on the borders, stressing the necessity of providing appropriate environments to prevent any clash between the people and the international soldiers.
On her part, Wronecka briefed Aoun on the deliberations that accompanied the UN Security Council's decision to extend the UNIFIL forces operating in the south at the end of last month and the support that will be provided to the Lebanese army on time.
It is noteworthy that on August 31, the UN Security Council renewed the mandate of the UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon for one year, asking the UNIFIL to continue providing logistical support for the Lebanese army for another six months.
The UNIFIL has been in the Lebanese South since 1978 as a "buffer" between Lebanon and the Israeli occupation as the two parties are technically still in a state of war.
The Security Council decided, at the request of Beirut, to extend the 10,000-strong force's mandate until August 2023.
The resolution was adopted by the council's 15 members, who stressed in particulate the "risk that violations of the cessation of hostilities could lead to a new conflict that none of the parties or the region can afford."
Later, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry announced that the UN Security Council's decision to extend the UNIFIL mandate in Lebanon is written in a manner that does not go with the decision's framework agreement.