One of Lebanon’s most notable recording artists said in an interview that she supports peace with “any country” and said the Jewish state was Lebanon’s enemy only because of the political “whims” of Lebanese officials.
Elissar Zakaria Khoury, known popularly by her stage name Elissa, told MTV Lebanon earlier this month she was surprised by the recent border demarcation talks between Jerusalem and Beirut.
“For 20 years, they have been talking to us about ‘the Zionist enemy’ and about how they want to pray in Jerusalem and so on and so forth, and all of a sudden, they are sitting at the negotiating table,” she said according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute watchdog group.
“What is happening in Lebanon is not normal. Let me tell you, I am not against the demarcation of borders. I support peace with any country, regardless of the identity of that state,” Elissa said. “We want to live. We want to enjoy what life we have left. We want a good future for our children.”
Israel and Lebanon, which remain technically at war, opened negotiations on the border dispute under US and UN auspices last month to clear the way for offshore oil and gas exploration.
The negotiations have been focused around an 860-square-kilometer (330-square-mile) disputed sea area according to a map registered with the United Nations in 2011.
The singer called the animosity with Israel a “conspiracy” concocted by Lebanese officials and used the fact that both sides are currently in talks as proof that the status quo was artificial.
“We should not live according to somebody’s whims. [How can Israel] be an enemy one day, and the next day we mark our borders with it? No. [Israel being our enemy] is the biggest lie we have been living. I have never believed this lie, but some people have, and they have lived their lives accordingly,” she said.
Israel and Lebanon opened the third round of maritime border talks on November 11, and face an impasse now that Lebanon has demanded an additional area of 1,430 square kilometers of Israeli-controlled territory.
An Israeli source close to the talks said that in the meantime, the Jewish state has demanded that the sea frontier be moved further north, deeper into areas claimed by Lebanon.
“Lebanon has changed its stance on its maritime border with Israel seven times,” Isreali Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz tweeted last week.