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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - BEIRUT — Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Monday the negotiations on maritime border demarcation agreement with Israel were on the right track.
Mikati made the remarks after his meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri at Baabda Palace.
He indicated that everyone in Lebanon has a unified position over this agreement for the sake of the country's interest, stressing that they will respond to the United States mediator Amos Hochstein within this entire context.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Elias Abu Saab said in a statement that the unified Lebanese position was a factor of strength in Lebanon's interest throughout the negotiation period, adding that Lebanon has obtained its full rights in Qana field.
Israel praised a US proposal to resolve the country’s maritime border dispute with Lebanon, building further momentum towards an agreement between two nations still technically at war.
The draft agreement floated by United States envoy Hochstein aims to settle competing claims over offshore gas fields and was delivered to Lebanese and Israeli officials at the weekend.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told his Cabinet on Sunday that the US proposal “strengthens Israel’s security and Israel’s economy”.
His government was “discussing the final details, so it is not yet possible to praise a done deal”, Lapid said.
“However, as we have demanded from the start, the proposal safeguards Israel’s full security-diplomatic interests, as well as our economic interests.”
Lebanon and Israel have no diplomatic relations and their land border is patrolled by the United Nations.
They reopened negotiations on their maritime border in 2020, but the process was stalled by Lebanon’s demand that the map used by the UN in the talks be modified.
Progress resumed after Lebanon appeared to modify its position, specifically concerning the Karish natural gas field, which Israel claims as its territory and not open to negotiation.
Lapid said Israel had been seeking an agreement with Lebanon “for over a decade”.
He added that his government does “not oppose the development of an additional Lebanese gas field, from which we will of course receive the share we deserve” — an apparent reference to the Qana field, which could be subject to a revenue-sharing mechanism under the US proposal.
Progress towards the deal comes before Israel’s November 1 election, its fifth vote in less than four years.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch foreign policy hawk seeking a return to power, warned that the right-wing government he intends to form after the vote could undo any pact. “If this illegal ploy passes, it won’t oblige us,” he said. — Agencies
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