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HomeNewsInternational NewsIsrael, Lebanon sign US-brokered maritime border deal

Israel, Lebanon sign US-brokered maritime border deal

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The two neighbours have no official relations, but a maritime agreement opens up the possibility for exploitation of reserves in the gas-rich Mediterranean Sea.

(AL Jazeera) – Israel and Lebanon have officially approved a historic United States-brokered agreement laying out their maritime boundary for the first time, which opens up the possibility for both countries to conduct offshore energy exploration.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun signed a letter at the presidential palace on Thursday morning that will be submitted to US officials at Lebanon’s southernmost border point of Naqoura later in the day.

Top Lebanese negotiator Elias Bou Saab said the deal, which ends a long-running maritime border dispute in the gas-rich Mediterranean Sea, marked the beginning of a “new era”.

Israel’s government also ratified the agreement on Thursday, a statement from Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office said.

Lapid said the deal was a “political achievement” for Tel Aviv as “it is not every day that an enemy state recognises the State of Israel, in a written agreement, in front of the entire international community”.

The agreement comes after months of indirect talks mediated by Amos Hochstein, the US envoy for energy affairs.

The two countries have no diplomatic relations and have formally been at war since Israel’s creation in 1948.

Beirut has sought to avoid framing the agreement as normalisation with Israel, insisting that another annexe scheduled to be signed by both sides at the UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura later on Thursday be signed in separate rooms.

The deal is expected to come into force later on Thursday, after US representatives at the United Nations peacekeeping mission officially announce its approval by both sides.

With the Lebanese economy in complete collapse, Beirut sees the demarcation of the maritime border along Line 23 as an opportunity to unlock foreign investment and lift the country out of its spiralling economic crisis.

Read more.

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