Middle East

Lebanon expects to settle maritime border dispute with Israel

Top Lebanese diplomat says 2 countries could reach a sea demarcation agreement in September

İdiris Okuduci   | 04.07.2022
Lebanon expects to settle maritime border dispute with Israel

BEIRUT 

Lebanon’s top diplomat said Sunday that he expects his country and Israel to reach a sea demarcation agreement in September.

Speaking to the LBCI television channel, Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib commented on the negotiations between Lebanon and Israel which resumed through US mediation efforts in June following a one-year hiatus.

Bou Habib said information obtained from US and UN officials indicates that progress has been made in the talks but did not provide further details.

His comments come a day after the Israeli army announced the downing of three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which had been sent towards an Israeli gas rig in the Karish field in the Mediterranean Sea in what the army described as a reconnaissance mission in Israel’s exclusive economic zone near the Lebanese border.

The Lebanese group Hezbollah confirmed the drone operation, saying it was meant to send a “message” to Israel about its capabilities.

Hezbollah has previously confirmed that it is prepared to take measures, including force, against Israeli gas drilling operations in such disputed offshore areas, saying “all options are on the table.”

Lebanon and Israel have been embroiled in a dispute over 860 square kilometers (332 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea, according to maps sent by both countries to the UN in 2011.

The area is rich in natural gas and oil.

Five sessions of indirect negotiations were held between the two countries under UN sponsorship and US mediation. The last round of talks took place in May 2021 but became deadlocked over major differences.

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