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AG says she hasn’t yet decided method of approving maritime deal with Lebanon

Defense minister predicts accord to resolve dispute likely to be brought before Knesset to let public see details before finalizing, as official says cabinet will vote on it

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara speaks at Tel Aviv Univerisity, September 28, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara speaks at Tel Aviv Univerisity, September 28, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara has not yet decided how Israel will approve an emerging agreement to resolve a maritime border dispute with Lebanon, the Justice Ministry said Sunday.

“At this stage, the attorney general has not yet been presented with the complete factual framework regarding the emerging legal questions, and therefore the legal adviser to the government has not yet formulated her opinion in this regard,” a Justice Ministry spokesperson said in a statement.

The announcement came hours after Prime Minister Yair Lapid confirmed that Israel had received a long-negotiated US proposal to resolve the dispute and said that the plan would preserve Israel’s regional interests.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday said the matter would likely be brought before a Knesset vote.

“During negotiations, the details cannot be disclosed to the public, but if we do reach a final version of the agreement, it will be placed on the Knesset’s table and its main points will be presented to the public in an orderly and transparent manner,” Gantz said, adding that “all this, of course, in accordance with the attorney general’s instructions.”

Meanwhile, an Israeli official told reporters that government ministers are expected to vote on the agreement during a cabinet meeting Thursday.

On Saturday, the United States handed over the written plan to Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

The text of the proposal has not been released for publication.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun (L) receives a proposal from US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea to resolve a maritime border dispute with Israel, October 1, 2022. (Lebanese Presidency)

The discussions began under the auspices of the previous government, led by then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu charged on Sunday that “Lapid has no mandate to hand over to an enemy state sovereign territories and sovereign assets that belong to all of us.”

The maritime dispute relates to some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea that include lucrative offshore gas fields.

The US-brokered talks on rights to the area, the subject of long-running but indirect negotiations between Jerusalem and Beirut and repeated threats from the Hezbollah terror group, have made progress in recent weeks.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid flies over the Karish gas field on July 19, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Tensions rose earlier this year after Israel moved a gas exploration ship to the disputed Karish gas field and recently said it will begin extracting from the site. Last month, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened that his Iran-backed terror organization’s missiles were “locked on” to Karish.

Yet in televised remarks Saturday, Nasrallah said the US draft deal opens up “new and promising horizons for the people of Lebanon by rescuing the country from the crisis it has fallen into.”

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