US envoy returns to Lebanon to mediate border, energy dispute with Israel

Former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Satterfield is shown  with Prime Minister Saad Hariri  at his  office in Beirut
Former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Satterfield is shown with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at his office in Beirut

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Beirut from Israel on Wednesday to continue diplomatic efforts to resolve a dispute between Lebanon and Israel over a border wall and energy drilling in disputed waters.

He kicked off his talks by holding talks with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil. He departed the talks without issuing a statement, said Lebanon’s state National News Agency.

Disputes over Israeli construction of the border wall, Lebanon’s start of oil and gas exploration at sea and the growing arsenal of Lebanon’s Iran-backed group “Hezbollah” have caused a spike in tensions between Lebanon and Israel.

Lebanon this month signed its first offshore energy exploration and production agreements with a consortium of France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek. One of two blocks given to the consortium, Block 9, contains waters claimed by Israel.

Satterfield has been shuttling back and forth between Israel and Lebanon in a bid to resolve the disputes.

Bassil and Satterfield had last met on Friday, after which parliament Speaker Nabih Berri reiterated Beirut’s rejection of US proposals to resolve the maritime dispute as “unacceptable”.

This was an apparent reference to a maritime demarcation line proposed by US diplomat Frederic Hof in 2012, which would give Lebanon around two-thirds and Israel around one-third of a disputed triangular area of sea of around 860 sq km (330 square miles).

A senior Lebanese government source said Satterfield did not come with any new plan, and talks still revolve around the Hof line.

A source in the foreign ministry said he discussed on Wednesday the disputed area, how Lebanon can preserve its rights and how to keep exploration and drilling from being affected.

The US Embassy in Lebanon said Satterfield “continues to engage” on regional issues and on helping Lebanon develop its resources in agreement with its neighbors.

General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim had on Tuesday met with United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon Commander Michael Beary to discuss the latest developments in Israel’s construction of the border wall.

Informed sources said earlier that Satterfield’s mediation will ultimately fail because its requires that both parties concerned accept it and Lebanon does not.

They explained that Lebanon refuses to engage in political negotiations with Israel because it fears that it could be lured into peace negotiations at a later date, which would result in internal divisions.

They stressed instead that United Nations Security Council resolution 1701 could help in resolving the Block 9 and border wall disputes.

ASharq Al-awsat

  • Hind Abyad

    ‘US hits deadlock in Lebanon-Israel border mediation’

    When Lebanese Armed Forces commander Gen. Joseph Aoun asked what his troops should do if Israel violated Lebanese waters, Prime Minister Saad Hariri promptly responded, “You shoot at them.” The maritime dispute with Israel is dominating Lebanese politics as the US State Department’s David Satterfield continues his three-week shuttle diplomacy between the two countries to reach a common ground, or at least prevent the dispute from spiraling out of control.’
    https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/02/us-mediation-lebanon-israel-gas-impasse.html?utm_c

    • Y K

      ‘When Lebanese Armed Forces commander Gen. Joseph Aoun asked what his
      troops should do if Israel violated Lebanese waters, Prime Minister Saad
      Hariri promptly responded, “You shoot at them.”’

      I bet he creamed his pants when he said that. 🙂

      • Hind Abyad

        Ohh… find something to occupy yourself, i don’t give a damn.

  • Hind Abyad

    This is the real article!
    “Satterfield’s shuttle diplomacy may offer diplomatic opening for Syria”
    https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/02/satterfield-shuttle-diplomacy-diplomatic-opening-syria.
    BTW. YaLibnan looks like funeral home, only Zionist hasbara left

    • Y K

      Maybe the time has come for you to finally take that plunge off the ledge?