Feltman, who also worked as an undersecretary-general for political affairs and assistant to the US Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, wondered whether Hezbollah had facilitated the process of reaching the agreement with Israel announced by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to divert attention from its obstruction to the formation of the Lebanese government. It blocks negotiations at a later time.
In an interview with Al-Hurra, Feltman expected that Hezbollah would keep the Shebaa Farms paper “as an excuse and an excuse to preserve its military arsenal, which poses a threat to Lebanon.”
Why agree now?
There was almost an agreement in the past. When Elizabeth Richard was ambassador to Lebanon, and there was a great rapprochement between the two sides, and so did Ambassador David Satterfield’s shuttle diplomacy between the two countries.
What has changed today, I think, is the American insistence that this matter can be ended, as well as the economic crises facing Lebanon.
The first oil exploration operation that took place in Block No. 4 in North Lebanon was not good and did not indicate the existence of sufficient gas reserves.
The prevailing belief today is that the blocks in the south and located in the disputed areas contain greater resources.
In addition to the general economic and financial situation in Lebanon, so that if Lebanon were able to commercially use the gas reserves in the sea, it might provide in the long term rather than the short term great resources for the Lebanese state.
Are there any links to the US sanctions imposed on Berri’s assistant on the Lebanese decision?
I am convinced that Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, like Israeli officials, took this decision because they saw it in the interest of their national security.
Berri saw it in the national security interest of Lebanon to try to find a way to resolve the maritime and land border disputes.
As for Hizbullah, I have to wonder if the party will allow the progress of the agreement without trying to obstruct it this time, as it tried to obstruct similar arrangements in the past because it is trying to divert attention from a reality that has hindered the formation of a government in Lebanon.
And I hope that when the UN-hosted talks start with the facilitation and mediation of the United States, we will see the two parties take a rational, constructive and positive approach to resolving this issue based on years of previous talks.
I hope that Hezbollah will not try to divert attention now from an issue that has obstructed the formation of a new government and then tries to obstruct the talks when they start.
Can Berri agree to dialogue with Israel without a green light from Hezbollah?
I expect Speaker Berri to have held consultations with all the main parties before agreeing to the framework agreement.
And I don’t think Berri, who is politically savvy, agreed to the deal without knowing if he had the green light from Hezbollah or at least the absence of a red light from the party, his partner in parliament.
Why are the Americans holding talks with Speaker Berri and not the Lebanese government or the President of the Republic?
You have to ask the US government which has a good ambassador in Beirut. Talks were taking place over the past years with Speaker Berri on this issue.
Ambassador Satterfield spoke with Speaker Berri a lot. And so did Frederick Hof before that. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard spoke with Brie about this.
Even when I was ambassador to Lebanon, we talked about this issue on several occasions. Whatever the reason, we have to give some credit to Speaker Berri, to the Israelis and to the Americans to David Schenker and others who were able to reach this agreement.
Will this agreement prevent a future war between Israel and Hezbollah?
As an American, I hope that the Israelis and the Lebanese will find a way to end the state of war between the two countries and reduce the risks of a war in the future.
If the talks succeed in resolving the issue of the maritime borders and the issue of the thirteen points of reservations across the Blue Line and resolving, at least, some land border problems, this may be a positive step, but it will not be the same as establishing full diplomatic relations, such as relations between Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Israel and, most recently, between the UAE and Bahrain. And Israel.
Let us focus our attention now on building on the framework agreement to reach a solution for the border areas, which will allow the Lebanese and the Israelis to benefit from their natural resources and avoid a possible miscalculation in the calculations in the disputed area.
Will the agreement prevent America from imposing sanctions on President Berri or Hezbollah in the future?
Sanctions are a political tool that the United States uses to support a policy. And I think Washington will decide on any future sanctions based on its conviction whether the sanctions will advance a particular policy.
I am now convinced that the Americans are focused on how to move forward, based on the framework agreement, in resolving issues that almost led to conflict and which prevented the use of natural resources by the two countries and which Hezbollah has used frankly as one of its justifications several times.
Anything that can be done to reduce the potential for conflict is a positive. Looking at how to solve border issues peacefully is far better than trying to use military means or missiles to establish facts on the ground.
Will the Shebaa Farms be discussed between the Israeli and Lebanese sides?
You know how complicated the issue of the Shebaa Farms is. The farms were occupied in 1967. When Israel occupied the Golan Heights, this area included the Shebaa Farms, and the Lebanese did not raise the issue of the occupation of farms in the United Nations or elsewhere until a very long time after the year 2000, following the Israeli withdrawal.
It is not part of the post-1967 Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel, it is part of the Syrian-Israeli lines.
I wonder if Hezbollah is looking to keep and eat its cake at the same time as it is said in English. It means that the maritime borders issue is allowed to be resolved through the framework agreement sponsored by the Americans, so Lebanon can benefit from the gas reserves.
It may also solve the land disputes after 1967, that is, the Lebanese-Israeli border, where the UNIFIL forces have done a lot of work in this regard with the two sides, as there are only 13 points which one of the parties has reservations about.
It may be possible to solve these border issues, but this does not solve the Shebaa Farms issue, which leaves Hezbollah with an excuse and an excuse to preserve its arsenal, which poses a threat to Lebanon.
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