Lebanese officials have refused to come under Israeli pressure by offering more concessions in the two countries’ maritime border dispute.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, the officials described recent remarks made by Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz as an attempt to take more concessions from Lebanon.
“This will never take place because the negotiation mechanism that has been put by (President Michel) Aoun is balanced and fair to both sides,” the officials said.
The Lebanese negotiation will not be “blackmailed” by Israel, they added.
Senior US official David Satterfield has been shuttling between Lebanon and Israel in an effort to launch talks between the two countries to resolve their maritime border dispute.
Steinitz voiced frustration on Friday with what he called Lebanon’s failure to agree to the US-mediated talks on setting their maritime border, suggesting Hezbollah was applying pressure on Beirut.
On Wednesday, Lebanon insisted any demarcation of its sea boundary with Israel be implemented only as part of a wider package including the land border – something Israel has previously ruled out.
Steinitz sounded less upbeat on Friday.
“(The) Lebanese on the one hand really want to develop their natural resources, and the unresolved dispute with Israel is disruptive for them – for us too, but for them more,” Steinitz told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM.
But Steinetz added Lebanon could also be facing “internal pressure, that they (are) under the sway of fear of Hezbollah.”
Steinitz said Lebanon had yet to formally refuse the overture for mediation.
He said that “in a week, 10 days we will know finally if we are on the way to talks or if this matter will be postponed by another one, two or three years”.
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