US stresses commitment to Lebanon maritime demarcation deal
The United States underlines that it will go above and beyond to ensure that the Lebanon maritime demarcation deal is upheld.
The United States is committed to the maritime demarcation recently reached by Lebanon and the Israeli occupation with US mediation following years of talks but calls on Beirut to implement "minor reforms" in its energy sector, US Special Envoy for Energy Affairs and the mediator in the indirect maritime talks, Amos Hochstein, said on Tuesday.
"The US has always been committed to getting that deal through. We would like to see that happen," Hochstein told the Middle East Institute.
According to the US mediator, Washington will be closely working with the World Bank and other international organizations to uphold the maritime agreement.
The US official also urged Beirut to implement several tariff-related "minor reforms" in the energy sector, as well as set a new electricity regulator.
The Israeli occupation cabinet approved last Wednesday the US-brokered maritime demarcation agreement with Lebanon, with all its members voting in favor, except Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who abstained, Israeli media reported.
The media said Israeli occupation Prime Minister Yair Lapid did not wish to seek the Knesset's approval, since if put to vote in the parliament, it is not clear whether the maritime agreement will pass.
This comes after Lapid announced a day earlier that "Israel" has reached a historic agreement on maritime demarcation agreement mediated by the US.
The agreement is about the maritime demarcation between the two parties, mostly about the energy resources in the Mediterranean Sea, with Beirut receiving the maritime rights it had been requesting from the get-go.
Hochstein declined to provide specifics regarding the time and manner in which Lebanon could be supplied with energy. However, he said the process would take several years.
“[W]e can get to a point where we can get much gas into Lebanon from Egypt and electricity from Jordan in the meantime. I think that would be very important,” he said.
The dangerous aspect of the agreement, Israeli occupation opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said in criticism of his political opponents, is that "Lapid and Gantz set a very dangerous precedent: terrorism is threatening Israel into retreat. This a devastating hit to our deterrence power."
"The maritime agreement with Lebanon is an embarrassing act of surrender by Lapid and Gantz to (Hezbollah Secretary-General) Nasrallah. Lebanon got 100%, and "Israel" got nothing," Netanyahu said.
Meanwhile, despite Netanyahu's words and Hochstein's assurances that the deal was a "win-win", The Times of Israel was of the opinion that the occupation ceded the Qana field to Lebanon in return for the Karish field, calling Hochstein's rhetoric a "downplaying" of concessions.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Tuesday called on TotalEnergies company to quickly begin exploring Block 9 in the Mediterranean sea, "to make up for the time lost due to indirect negotiations to demarcate the southern maritime borders."
Right after Aoun's statement, Hochstein stated he hoped TotalEnergies SE and ENI SpA could begin gas exploration in Lebanese maritime blocs within weeks.
The TotalEnergies-led consortium that won rights to explore two offshore blocks also included Russia's Novatek, but it pulled out last month.