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Lebanon: US proposal for maritime border deal with Israel to be sent by end of week

Lebanese president Michel Aoun briefed on deputy speaker’s recent talks with American mediator Amos Hochstein, day after Israeli TV says agreement expected in next two weeks

Lebanese President Michel Aoun, right, meets with US Envoy for Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein, at the presidential palace, in Beirut, Lebanon, September 9, 2022. (Dalati Nohra, Lebanon's official government photographer, via AP)
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, right, meets with US Envoy for Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein, at the presidential palace, in Beirut, Lebanon, September 9, 2022. (Dalati Nohra, Lebanon's official government photographer, via AP)

An American proposal to resolve a maritime border dispute between Israel and Lebanon is expected to be sent to Lebanese President Michel Aoun in the coming days, his office said Monday.

According to a statement posted to Twitter by the Lebanese presidency, US mediator Amos Hochstein’s written offer of a border demarcation will arrive at Aoun’s desk before the end of the week.

The statement also said the deputy speaker of Lebanon’s parliament, Elias Bou Saab, briefed Aoun on his recent talks with Hochstein in New York.

No details were provided about the expected proposal.

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 negotiations between Jerusalem and Beirut and repeated threats from the Hezbollah terror group, have appeared to make progress in recent weeks.

On Sunday, Israel’s Channel 13 news said security officials believe a deal will be reached in the next two weeks.

Energean’s floating production system (FPSO) at the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. (Energean)

The television report followed talks Prime Minister Yair Lapid held on preparations to produce gas from the Karish field, amid Hezbollah threats to attack Israel if it begins drilling there before a maritime border deal is reached.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said last week that his Iran-backed terror organization’s missiles were “locked on” Karish.

Lebanon claims that the Karish gas field is in disputed territory, while Israel says it lies within its internationally recognized economic waters.

Earlier this month, Lapid’s office vowed Israel would go ahead and extract gas from Karish with or without a deal on the maritime border with Lebanon. Those comments came hours after Aoun said that indirect talks with Israel to end a maritime border dispute are in their “final stages.”

A spokesperson for Lapid issued a statement later that day saying: “Israel believes that it is both possible and necessary to reach an agreement on a maritime line between Lebanon and Israel, in a manner that will serve the interests of the citizens of both countries.”

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