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Israeli Leader Welcomes US Plan for Sea Border with Lebanon

Israeli Leader Welcomes US Plan for Sea Border with Lebanon

Sunday, 2 October, 2022 - 09:45
Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem, June 20, 2022. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel's prime minister on Sunday welcomed a US-brokered deal for setting the maritime border with Lebanon, saying the plan for resolving a long-running dispute between the neighboring countries would lift Israel's economy and boost regional security.


Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the proposal was delivered over the weekend to both Israel and Lebanon. While he said it was still being studied, he said the plan would strengthen Israel's northern areas near the Lebanese border, allow Israel to produce additional natural gas and deliver new revenues to the national coffers.


“This is a deal that strengthens Israel’s security and Israel's economy,” Lapid told his Cabinet.


He also said Israel would not oppose the development of “an additional Lebanese gas field” straddling the maritime border, as long as Israel receives “the share we deserve.” He said this would weaken Lebanon's dependence on Iran, restrain Hezbollah and promote regional stability.


He said the deal was being reviewed by legal and defense officials before it is to be voted upon by the government. Israeli media said a vote could take place Thursday.


On Saturday, the proposal was also delivered to Lebanese leaders.


Beirut is studying the 10-page draft, details of which have not been made public.


Lebanon and Israel have been officially at war since Israel’s creation in 1948 and both countries claim some 860 square kilometers of the Mediterranean Sea.


Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser for energy security at the US State Department who has been mediating between the two neighbors, last visited Beirut in September, where he expressed optimism after meeting with Lebanon’s leaders.


Lebanon's parliament speaker, Nabi Berri, said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat the proposal “in principle meets the Lebanese demands.”


The centrist Lapid heads a caretaker government ahead of a Nov 1 election. His challenger, conservative ex-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has argued the Lebanese deal could benefit Hezbollah, and accused Lapid of evading parliamentary scrutiny.


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