U.S. resumes mediation efforts in Israel-Lebanon maritime dispute

Exploration of one of the blocks (9) is controversial since part of it is located in an 860-square-kilometer (330-square-mile) area ( orange color) claimed by both Israel and Lebanon.

The U.S. has resumed its mediation efforts in the maritime dispute between Israel and Lebanon.

An agreement over a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean Sea could allow Lebanon to begin natural gas exploration, which may boost its imperiled economy. 

Lebanon oill , gas reserves

Lebanon and Israel each claim a potentially gas-rich, 330-square-mile area off their borders in the Mediterranean Sea.

  • The latest round of U.S.-mediated talks began last year, but stalled due to the pandemic and the political crisis in Lebanon.
  • State Department energy envoy Amos Hochstein, who is leading the mediation efforts, had last visited the two countries in November.

 Hochstein in Jerusalem on Sunday met with Israeli Minister of Energy Karine Elharrar, who told the U.S. envoy that Israel wants a deal and is willing to consider “creative solutions” as long as its security and economic interests are maintained, a senior Israeli official told me.

  • The official declined to give any details about Hochstein’s proposal, but stressed the U.S. envoy sees an opportunity to get a deal and wants to try to reach one as quickly as possible.
  • A State Department spokesperson said a decision on the maritime boundary is one for Israel and Lebanon to make.
  • “America stands ready to facilitate negotiations, and we strongly support efforts to reach a mutually beneficial agreement,” the spokesperson added.

Hochstein is expected to visit Beirut next week, according to Lebanese media.

  • The Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported Tuesday that the Lebanese team made it clear the broad-demands position it presented during direct talks in May was only a negotiation tactic and it did not represent Lebanon’s real demands.
  • Lebanon is ready to go back to its original position, which includes narrower demands.
  • Lebanese presidential adviser Elias Bou Saab told the newspaper that President Michel Aoun signaled that “time is not on our side and it is in our interest not to postpone the issue and take a national decision on this issue.”

Hochstein told the parties in November that if they can’t come to an agreement before Lebanon’s March 2022 parliamentary elections, he would end the mediation efforts.

  • The elections have since been postponed to May.
  • Israeli officials told me the fact that Hochstein came to the region at a time when he is also involved in the Ukraine crisis shows he thinks there is a potential to get a deal.


2 responses to “U.S. resumes mediation efforts in Israel-Lebanon maritime dispute”

  1. Days before the start of negotiations with Israel Lebanon hardens positions: “Karish gas field is in a disputed area We oppose drilling there”
    Lebanese media report that in recent days the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, under the direction of President Aoun, has sent a letter to the UN stating that Lebanon’s position is that Lebanese economic water reaches up to point 29 instead of point 23 (look at the attached map). In doing so, the Lebanese increased the disputed area by 1,430 square kilometers from 860 to 2,290 square kilometers in total.
    In the letter, Lebanon declared that it opposes drilling in the disputed area, which also includes a significant portion of the Israeli “shark” gas field, which Lebanon claims ownership of.
    In doing so, Lebanon warns foreign drilling companies that they are conducting activities for Israel in territory that is not owned by them, or at least controversial https://t.me/abualiexpress/33063

  2. Adam Yonatan Ben Yoel Avatar
    Adam Yonatan Ben Yoel

    We’re still waiting for peace and have no designs on Lebanon, unlike Iran which rules Lebanon.

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