Lebanon to invite US to mediate Israel maritime border talks | Energy News

Beirut, Lebanon Lebanon has agreed to call on the United States to resume indirect negotiations over its maritime border, after a vessel sailed into disputed waters to produce gas for Israel.

President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Najib Mikati met on Monday and agree to invite Senior US energy adviser and mediator Amos Hochstein arrives in Beirut.

Congressman Elias Bou Saab, President Aoun’s adviser on international cooperation, reported talk to Hochstein after the meeting to plan a day for a visit.

The Israeli Defense Ministry said the dispute would be resolved through US mediation. Lebanon and Israel have no diplomatic relations and are officially enemies.

A ship operated by Energean to the disputed waters Sunday to produce gas for Israel, angering Lebanese officials.

Israeli authorities say the area, known as the Karish field, is in the country’s exclusive economic zone. Lebanon says part of the area lies within maritime territory that it claims is being negotiated.

A previous round of conversation to resolve the decades-long dispute began in October 2020 at the UN peacekeeping force headquarters in southern Lebanon, but negotiations stalled within weeks.

Hochstein has since resorted to shuttle diplomacy between Beirut and Tel Aviv in an attempt to break the deadlockunsuccessful.

27667 U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Foreign Affairs, Amos Hochstein, meets with Lebanese Foreign Minister, Gibran Bassil (not pictured), at the State Department in Beirut, Lebanon, July 2, 2015. Press release. reported, Hochstein arrived in Beirut 1 July for two days of meetings with Lebanese officials to discuss the economic situation in Lebanon and other regional energy issues.  EPA / WAEL HAMZEH
Amos Hochstein resorted to shuttle diplomacy between Beirut and Tel Aviv [File: Wael Hamzeh/EPA]

Despite the growing tensions between the two countries, Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar dismiss fears a potential conflict and rejects Lebanon’s claims to the territory, calling them “far from reality”.

Meanwhile, senior Lebanese officials accuse Israel of invading the disputed waters. Prime Minister Mikati said Israel was imposing a “criminal co-conspirator” in an attempt to turn the negotiations in its favor.

‘Lost a decade of opportunity’

As Lebanon tries to block Israel’s gas production preparations at the Karish site, experts have criticized senior Lebanese officials for failing to defend their claims in the vast maritime territory. possible.

Lebanon 2011 release Decree 6433 to the United Nations over claims to maritime territory in the Mediterranean Sea, known as Line 23, which does not intersect the Karish field.

However, studies conducted by the UK Hydrographic Office and later the Lebanese Army indicated that Lebanon could claim an additional 1,430 square kilometers (889 sq mi), intruding into the Karish field. It’s called Road 29, but Lebanon has never amended Decree 6433.

Marc Ayoub, associate at the Issam Fares Institute at the US University of Beirut, told Al Jazeera: “The military has conducted extensive studies on 29th Street and it has valid technical and legal considerations.

“We have lost a decade of opportunity to reach a point where we are losing [economic] permission. ”

The Lebanese government has struggled to keep its institutions functioning, as prospects for economic reform and recovery are hampered by political spats between the ruling elite and the management of resources. systematic weakness.

In April 2021, then-Prime Minister Hasan Diab approved a draft decree amending Decree 6433 to expand Lebanon’s claims, but President Michel Aoun has yet to sign the document.

“He said it was because the draft decree was administered by a government and because negotiations with the United States were opened,” Ayoub said.

Member of Parliament Melhem Khalaf speaks during a news conference as he shows a map of 29th Street at the Lebanese Parliament building in Beirut
Member of Parliament Melhem Khalaf speaks during a news conference as he shows a map of 29th Street at the Lebanese Parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon [Wael Hamzeh/EPA-EFE]

Some MPs have reacted to recent developments calling for the government and the president to amend the order. Member of Parliament Hassan Mourad, allied with Hezbollah, presented a draft law to Parliament on Monday to amend Decree 6433 to expand Lebanon’s claims to Road 29.

Meanwhile, 13 anti-establishment MPs, known locally as forces for change, at a press conference called on the government and the president to bring forward the revised Decree 6433 to the United Nations, sending a warning letter. reported to Energean and filed a complaint against Israel. for the United Nations Security Council.

“Under open international law and international agreements, we have the legitimacy to impose this issue,” said the bloc’s lawmaker Melhem Khalaf.

Lawmaker Mark Daou of the same bloc told Al Jazeera that there is no valid reason for President Aoun and the government not to sign an amendment decree.

“There’s nothing stopping them,” he said. “Lebanon should have done what it should have done from day one; submit an updated map recognizing Road 29 as the sovereign line for Lebanon. ”

There is no unified position

Parliament will meet on Tuesday, but Decree 6433 is not on the agenda.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s office did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment, nor did Energy Minister Walid Fayyad.

Member of Parliament Alain Aoun, a senior lawmaker in President Aoun’s Liberal Patriotic Movement party, said the situation was not as easy as critics claimed.

“It’s more complicated than just signing [the decree]Aoun told Al Jazeera, without divulging further details.

Since the end of 2019, Lebanon has been in financial and economic collapse. The Lebanese pound has lost 90% of its value against the US dollar and 80% of the country’s population lives in poverty.

While a nascent oil and gas industry won’t be enough to pay off its ballooning debts and pay back millions of people whose savings are stuck in the country’s banks, experts say Lebanon is struggling. lost economic opportunities to boost its coffers.

Vehicles of the United Nations peacekeeping force pass the Hezbollah flag and statue of the late Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, as they patrol a road along the Lebanon-Israel border town of Naqoura, Lebanon
Vehicles of the United Nations peacekeeping force pass the Hezbollah flag and statue of the late Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, as they patrol a road along the Lebanon-Israel border town of Naqoura, Lebanon [Mohammed Zaatari/AP Photo]

“Poor governance, the inability to strategize and implement the vision for this sector have hindered the prospects for the development of Lebanon’s oil and gas sector, which will at least serve the country’s domestic energy needs or even positioning it as a viable export for Europe. are looking for alternatives to Russian gas,” Sibylle Rizk, Public Policy Director of the Lebanese advocacy group Kulluna Irada told Al Jazeera.

But in the meantime, as Lebanon tries to get the indirect talks back on track, Rizk expressed concern that the lack of a unified position among Lebanon’s political leaders could lead to a diplomatic crisis.

“Is it Line 23 or Line 29? The Lebanese Army and Naqoura delegation have built a solid case for Route 29, but the official position remains on Route 23,” said Rizk.

“This lack of clarity leaves the door open to all kinds of foreign intervention and political bargaining that may benefit some stakeholders, but certainly not the collective interest of all.” Lebanese people.”

Negotiations are ongoing between Lebanese officials. After Aoun’s talks with Mikati, Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib met with Speaker Nabih Berri.

But it is not clear whether an agreement is possible, as well as whether the authorities will amend Decree 6433.

When a reporter asked Bou Habib why President Aoun had yet to sign the decree, he told him to “go ask at the presidential palace.”

Source link


News5h: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button