Lebanon, Israel set to sign maritime deal Thursday, US envoy confirms
‘We have a deal,’ Amos Hochstein tells CNN, though cabinet still has to approve agreement before ceremony
Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter
US special energy envoy Amos Hochstein told CNN’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Lebanon and Israel are likely to sign their new maritime boundary deal on Thursday.
“We’re going to have a deal,” said Hochstein. “We’re going to sign it hopefully this Thursday.”
Israel is hoping for a signing ceremony with Israeli and Lebanese officials sitting in the same room. Hochstein is expected to be present for whatever sort of ceremony takes place.
According to the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar daily, the event is set to take place in the Lebanese town of Naqoura, with delegations from Israel and Lebanon signing the deal in separate rooms. Lebanon is not expected to sign the agreement until after Israel does so.
Once the agreement is inked, Jerusalem and Beirut will send letters to the United Nations laying out the terms of the deal.
National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata is expected to represent Israel, though Israeli officials said they still have not made a decision.
Under the agreement, Israel will receive recognition for its buoy-marked boundary five kilometers (3.1 miles) off the coast of the northern town of Rosh Hanikra, which it established in 2000. After that, the boundary will follow the southern edge of the disputed area known as Line 23.
Lebanon will enjoy the economic benefits of the area north of Line 23, including the Qana gas field, while Israel will move ahead with its plans to imminently begin gas production at the Karish field.
Hours earlier, the High Court of Justice rejected all four petitions against the agreement, clearing the path for the cabinet to approve the deal. The cabinet is to meet at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem to vote on the agreement.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid will sign the deal after the vote, assuming the cabinet approves the agreement as expected.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.