ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 144

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Senior Israeli official: Cautiously optimistic about maritime deal with Lebanon

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

An Israeli Sa'ar Class 4.5 missile boat guards the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
An Israeli Sa'ar Class 4.5 missile boat guards the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

A senior Israeli official in the delegation to Berlin says Jerusalem has “especially cautious optimism” that a deal can be reached with Lebanon on a disputed maritime border.

“Both sides are close,” the official says, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Both countries claim an area rich in natural gas, but are still officially at war with each other. The US is mediating talks.

“We have no reason not to want the two gas fields right next to each other,” the official says, hinting at a compromise agreement. “Strengthening Lebanon economically isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

“We will extract from Karish the minute we’re ready. If Hezbollah does something they’ll suffer,” he says referring to the Shiite terror group’s threats to attack if Israel starts extracting gas before a deal is reached. “A terror group won’t decide our foreign policy.”

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