The demarcation of the borders of Lebanon and Israel … the...

The demarcation of the borders of Lebanon and Israel … the...
The demarcation of the borders of Lebanon and Israel … the...

Lebanon gave the green light to start a framework agreement for demarcating the land and sea borders with Israel, after years of American efforts and efforts to resolve the crisis.

On Thursday, the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, announced that negotiations will begin with Israel regarding the demarcation of the land and sea borders, under the auspices of the United Nations, in mid-October.

The Lebanese presidency also welcomed the reaching of a “framework agreement”, wishing Washington to continue fair mediation between the two sides.

Lebanon is locked in a conflict with Israel over an area in the Mediterranean, about 860 square kilometers, known as Zone No. 9, rich in oil and gas, and Beirut announced in January 2016, the start of the first round of licenses for exploration in it.

The Lebanese and Israeli maritime borders did not witness military conflicts similar to the land borders, as Hezbollah controls the southern Lebanon region bordering Israel, and from time to time there are tensions due to “the party fighters’ attempts to breach the borders,” as Israel described.

The move raises questions about its significance in terms of Lebanon’s recognition of Israel, the possibility of disarming Hezbollah, the link between the move and the normalization of the Emirates and Bahrain and the talk about secret negotiations to normalize Syria, as well as the reasons for Washington’s keenness to agree, especially at this time.

Lebanese confession

Political analyst Munir al-Rabee ‘believes that “the framework agreement that he announced is, in one way or another, a concession by Lebanon to accept direct negotiations with the Israeli enemy.”

He says, “Nabih Berri (Speaker of Parliament), in his announcement, used the term Israel, and he did not use the enemy’s entity or the occupied Palestinian territories, but rather the Israeli borders, and this is an indication of a major shift in the Lebanese position.”

He attributes the reasons for Lebanon’s agreement to go about negotiations to “the American and Israeli attacks, the intensification of the economic strikes and crises that Lebanon is experiencing, and the salvation from crises.”

And he warned that “the path of negotiation will be arduous and long, and it is linked to the position of Hezbollah and Iran on America,” noting that “the bet remains until after the American elections and reaching an American-Iranian agreement, and if the agreement is reached, the border demarcation process will be easier.”

The file of demarcating the borders between Israel and Lebanon is among the top priorities of the US administration, especially before the presidential elections scheduled for next November.

Hezbollah weapon

On the disarmament of Hezbollah in light of the demarcation of the borders, Al Rabeeh said that “America and Israel will present several conditions during the negotiation sessions, such as Hezbollah’s weapons, precision missiles, and the scope of work of the international emergency forces.”

These conditions will be linked to oil and gas exploration, as it needs stability, and stability cannot be provided in the presence of weapons. Therefore, weapons must be removed, according to the spring.

On the other hand, the writer and political analyst (close to Hezbollah), Qasim Kassir, believes that “what was announced is a framework agreement, and that the negotiations will take a long time.”

“As long as the enemy is carrying out attacks, there will remain resistance and the option of confrontation, while demarcating the borders does not contradict the right to resist,” Kassir said.

The demand for disarming Hezbollah has been raised, from time to time, during the protests that have taken place in the Lebanese street, since October 2019.

Retired Brigadier General Elias Hanna believes that “the majority of Hezbollah members are on the sanctions list,” so it is difficult for there to be any easing of the sanctions in light of the delineation of borders.

On September 17, the US Treasury announced the imposition of sanctions against two companies and an official in Lebanon, for their association with Hezbollah.

Hanna stresses that “at the present time, there are no positive repercussions (of the negotiations) on the economy of Lebanon,” adding, “To go towards gas exploration, the process will take a long time, and entering the club of producing countries must be at least 5 years.”

Regarding the visit of the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Schenker, to Lebanon in mid-October, Hanna believes that it will “facilitate the negotiations.”

The normalization of Syria

Brigadier General Khaled Hamadeh, the file of demarcating the maritime and land borders between Lebanon and Israel, does not separate from all the historical files that the US administration is carrying out regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“We have seen normalization agreements between the UAE and Bahrain, and we know through the media that more than one country is preparing to end the state of conflict with Israel, including Syria, which has made its way, albeit in secret, so the border and oil file are inseparable,” Hamadeh said.

Regarding the acceleration of the negotiations file, Hamadeh believes that it is “related to the economic crisis, from which the French initiative tried to get Lebanon out of it, but it seems that the political settlement that was on the table did not bear fruit, so the American agreement may advance towards resolving the crisis from the gate of border demarcation.”

And he added, “There was a proposal from (the American envoy between Lebanon and Israel) Ambassador Frederick Hoff (2012), who presented a concept of dividing the disputed distance between Lebanon and Israel at a rate of two-thirds for Lebanon and one-third for Israel,” suggesting that “this equation is in effect.”

He believes that the border demarcation file will have a positive impact on Lebanon and Israel, saying, “When there is an international consensus on demarcating the borders, this means that companies will rush to explore, invest and develop existing gas deposits, which constitutes a way out to directly support the Lebanese economy.”

And stresses that “the demarcation of the border, if it occurs, will end the Arab-Israeli conflict, of which Lebanon is one of its factors, but Lebanon will not end this file, since there will be no end to it in Syria.”

Ineffective negotiations

As for the member of the Development and Liberation Bloc (headed by Nabih Berri) MP Muhammad Nasrallah, he believes that “the negotiations are not new, but are 10 years old, and 4 American envoys have rotated to negotiate with Speaker Berri, to reach a conclusion.”

MP Nasrallah clarifies that “the framework agreement is nothing but a road map to start serious negotiations to fully demarcate the land and sea, and this agreement is based on foundations based on the 1996 and 1701 accords under the banner of the United Nations.”

The April 1996 Understanding, an informal written agreement between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah, was reached thanks to the diplomatic efforts of the United States, which ended the 1996 military conflict between the two sides.

On the other hand, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1701, on August 11, 2006, calling for the cessation of all hostilities between Lebanon and Israel.

The total volume of Lebanese marine reserves of oil is estimated at 865 million barrels, and of gas is 96 trillion cubic feet.

Lebanon is suffering a severe economic crisis, exacerbated by the political turmoil that plagues the country, and the total public debt reached $ 86.2 billion in the first quarter of 2019, according to official figures.

Also read:

Under UN sponsorship … negotiations between Lebanon and Israel regarding border demarcation

Washington: We will not print with the “evil” Assad regime except in this case

An American-Emirati-Israeli agreement on a “joint strategy” for energy

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