Resistance, Lebanon's stance led to demarcation agreement: Nasrallah
Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah explains the details of the maritime border agreement that gave Lebanon its rights in the Mediterranean Sea.
After years of talks about there being a wealth of natural resources in the Lebanese territorial waters in the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon was in need of demarcating its maritime borders, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday in the wake of Lebanon signing a US-mediated agreement on the Lebanese maritime borders with the Israeli occupation.
"The land borders between occupied Palestine and Lebanon were drawn up by the French and British mandates, but the maritime borders were not demarcated," Sayyed Nasrallah said.
"Lebanon, in the battle of the demarcation of the southern maritime borders that started with a Greek ship docking in the area and ended with documents being handed over in Al-Naqoura, was able to obtain all of its demands except for one issue," the Hezbollah chief underlined.
During a televised speech following the signing of the US-mediated agreement, Sayyed Nasrallah described the results of the indirect talks as important and a major historic victory for Lebanon. However, "a small area of 2.5 square kilometers is still outstanding, and Lebanon insists that it is occupied."
"Lebanon bore all the pressures, the blockade, the strain of time, and all the risks, insisting on obtaining Line 23, all of the blocs in full, and even more," he added. "Even in terms of the demarcation of the maritime border with Cyprus, Lebanon's share of its exclusive maritime zone will increase after a deal is struck."
"The Israeli enemy recognized the balance of deterrence with the Resistance as a result of what happened on the issue of the demarcation of the maritime borders," Sayyed Nasrallah underlined. "There is nothing even remotely close to normalization or a recognition of the Israeli enemy after the agreement on the demarcation of the maritime border."
"Everything that happened did not grant Lebanon any security guarantees, and if there were any security guarantees made discreetly, [Israeli occupation Prime Minister Yair] Lapid and others would have displayed them to the public, as they are in a dire need for those guarantees."
"One of the conditions that led to the deal is the heroic Resistance in the occupied West Bank, as the occupation's current state is one of the many conditions that helped with this achievement," he stressed. "The Israeli enemy is not ready for war due to the internal divides it has [...] Lebanon was able to take over the current historic circumstances to conclude the demarcation agreement."
"The official position, along with the threat of the Resistance and its readiness, sending drones and amassing popular support, contributed to the completion of the demarcation agreement," the Lebanese Resistance leader added.
He explained that the US blockade on Lebanon led the Lebanese people to become more accepting of high-risk options to reclaim the oil wealth, even at the risk of war with the Israeli occupation.
Lebanon's rights to expand
"In light of the demarcation of the maritime borders, Lebanon is specifying the gas and oil blocs," he added. "There is something called territorial waters, which have their own mechanism, there are the adjacent waters, and there is a part called the exclusive economic zone."
"The territorial waters are part of the country, and the Lebanese state has full sovereignty over these waters and it benefits from its resources," he explained. "Line 23 imposes on Lebanon the liberation of that maritime area under the banner of territorial waters and an exclusive maritime zone, which is a national cause."
"The Lebanese state saw that Line 23 is the maritime borders, leaving the door open for amendments," the Lebanese Resistance leader said. "We said it before, and we reiterate that the Resistance does not intervene in the maritime border demarcation for various reasons. We say that we will adhere to the decisions taken by the state of Lebanon."
"Those speaking against Line 29, carry on with your struggle without making others seem like traitors," he stressed.
"The enemy drew Line 1 from Al-Naqoura and considered that it was its maritime zone, prohibiting anyone from exploring the area after Lebanon claimed its rights in the zone," Sayyed Nasrallah said.
"There was a prohibition from the United States regarding the exploration and drilling for oil in light of the blockade on Lebanon and the pressure on the Lebanese state to give up the borders it had in mind and accept Line 1," the Resistance leader explained. "The companies that had for years signed agreements on working in the southern blocs, prior to the demarcation, were prohibited from doing so by the United States."
"The enemy exercised its authority in this zone, practicing hegemony on the blocs that fell on the border with Lebanon and claimed them as its own, saying they fell within its exclusive economic zone," Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted.
"As per the data being circulated, the area between Line 1 and Line 23 is 876 square kilometers," he added. "The first mediator, Frederick Hoff, proposed a line, which he saw posed as a settlement, between Line 1 and Line 23, giving 45% of the area to the enemy and 55% to Lebanon [...] this was very unfair toward Lebanon."
"The Americans exerted pressure on everyone, but the official Lebanese stance remained in rejection of Hoff's line," he underlined. "Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, during all of these negotiations, did not give a single concession and bore the burdens until we reached a stage where he announced the end of his direct responsibility for the issue."
"The responsibility of following up on the negotiations was transferred from Speaker Berri to President Michel Aoun as of September 22, 2020," he recalled. "The issue was transferred from safe hands to safe hands, and from a proclaimed man of steel to another proclaimed man of steel."
New phase in the demarcation process of the maritime borders
Sayyed Nasrallah stated that "after the change of the American administration, the American mediator, Amos Hochstein, was assigned and presented a new advanced proposal that extends beyond Hoff's proposal, but he did not respond to the Lebanese proposal and demands, and thus began implementing a new forein policy approach in the region and across the world."
Furthermore, he said that "at this stage, a ship directed towards the Karish field approached to begin oil and gas extraction. Here, a completely new stage began."
Sayyed Nasrallah noted that at that time "the Resistance took a higher stake and a firm stance that it would not allow the Israelis to extract oil from Karish before an agreement that meets Lebanon's demands has been reached."
The Secretary-General added that "for the Zionist, the Resistance's anouncement of its new position came as a surprise," noting that the discussed agreement must be reached through indirect negotiations that respond to Lebanon's demands.
Sayyed Nasrallah also highlihted that "based on this threat, we are in front of a whole new phase, and this means that we have set up an equation beyond Karish and all the existing facilities that can be hit through the Lebanese Islamic Resistance's missiles."
He stressed that "the official Lebanese position; unified and strong, and the threat from the Resistance practically led to putting Israel under severe pressure," noting that "the Israelis did not have the ability to wage war or to abolish Karish, so the only solution they had was to adhere to the indirect negotiations."
According to Sayyed Nasrallah, "The negotiations regarding the demarcation of the Lebanese maritime borders were never easy, even the signing of the last agreement was a difficult process."
"There was a big problem regarding the management of the Qana field and the extent of Lebanon's rights. Meanwhile, the Americans were intending to implicate the Lebanese negotiating team in a normalization process, even in the slightest way," he added.
Significantly, the Secretary-General noted that "at certain times, the negotiations reached a dead-end and we were at the brink of a war," but "the solidity and steadfastness of the Lebanese negotiator and the heads of state was very essential to the negotiation process. Simultaneously, the enemy issued threats of mass destruction while the Americans pressured Lebanon to accept settlements that are not in its favor."
He added, "We launched the drones, asserting that the field data the Resistance had accumulated confirmed that it was preparing for a comprehensive war, and the Israelis realized that."
The Resistance leader underscored that "Lebanon was strong, using all of its strength and might, because it did not fear all of the US and Zionist pressures, nor heading toward war."
"The state's official position adopted the Resistance's threats, and it was wise throughout the negotiations process."
"We did not commit any wrongdoing, and action was taken at the required level [...] when national interest requires bypassing the rules of engagement, the Resistance will not hesitate, even if the the situation requires waging war," Sayyed Nasrallah asserted.
He once again underlined that no party will be able to extract its natural resources if Lebanon was prevented from doing so.