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Lapid, Netanyahu continue to trade barbs over burgeoning Lebanon maritime deal

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

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)
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)

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu says that Prime Minister Yair Lapid is bargaining away Israel’s “sovereign territory” in a potential treaty to resolve the long-running maritime border dispute with Lebanon. Lapid, meanwhile, slams the former prime minister for being bitter about failing to reach any deal himself.

Netanyahu charges that if the deal, which he has yet to see, is signed, then the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah will be “getting sovereign territory of Israel.”

At a press conference, the Likud leader reaffirms his stance that the agreement “is illegal and we won’t be bound by it,” should he return to power after November’s election.

Lapid and the Foreign Ministry have said that the deal only concerns territory in Israel’s economic sphere, not territorial waters, and therefore does not require Knesset approval or a national referendum.

Shortly before Netanyahu’s press conference, Lapid said that the former prime minister is talking “without seeing the deal and without knowing what’s in it.”

Lapid accused Netanyahu of taking out his frustrations “on not reaching a deal during his 10 years in office” by sharing propaganda from Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah.

Meant to solve a maritime dispute that concerns the Qana gas field, the deal will reportedly cede the field to Lebanon, but deliver yet-to-be-decided economic rights to Israel via the company managing the gas’s potential extraction.

Among Israel’s diplomatic and security wins, the country is expected to receive recognition for its de facto maritime border with Lebanon, as created by a line of buoys its unliterally placed.

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