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Siniora to Asharq Al-Awsat: I Fear Deadlock With Israel Over Maritime Borders

Siniora to Asharq Al-Awsat: I Fear Deadlock With Israel Over Maritime Borders

Sunday, 11 April, 2021 - 10:00
Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora (Reuters/ Mohammed Azakir).

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora expressed his fear that the demarcation of the maritime borders with Israel would become “another Shebaa Farms” crisis, referring to the stumbling efforts to demarcate the borders.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Siniora said: “When we rely on solid ground, all the Lebanese will support the negotiating team.”

But he cautioned that if the new demands were not legally established, negotiations could extend for years and be delayed, allowing Israel “to take advantage of our wealth.”

Indirect negotiations with Israel, under the auspices and mediation of the United States, stopped after four sessions held at the UN headquarters in Ras Naqoura in the far south-west of Lebanon, when the Lebanese side raised the ceiling of its conditions, demanding an additional 1,430 nautical kilometers, while the initial demand was limited to 860 kilometers.

The Lebanese negotiating delegation announced a few weeks ago that it would not resume talks without amending the decree that the Lebanese government deposited at the United Nations in 2010, describing it as “our weapon to win the negotiations.”

Siniora explained the demarcation path since 2007, saying that Lebanon signed an agreement with Cyprus on January 17, 2007, without specifying the triple points in the north and the south, because of hostility with Israel and Damascus's rejection of a joint demarcation of the border in the north.

The agreement stipulated that no party could take an additional step without the approval of the third party, and accordingly, the Lebanese side individually demarcated its borders, Siniora noted, stressing that the move had no legal value because it was made on a unilateral basis.

In contrast to the agreement with Lebanon, Cyprus made a unilateral move and concluded an agreement with Israel on December 17, 2010, without consulting the Lebanese side. The former premier noted that Tel Aviv has deposited its borders as it sees fit, with the triple point with Cyprus, in the United Nations. The government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati objected to that agreement on June 20, 2011, because it contravened Point 23 that the second Siniora government had set in 2008.

“I am afraid that we will have another Shebaa Farms in the sea,” Siniora said, referring to disputed land in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

He continued: “When our rights are legally established, and we have solid ground to prove them, then we must all support the amendment of the decree,” demanded by the negotiating delegation.

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