Israeli ministers give preliminary approval for Lebanon maritime border deal

The draft will later be presented for review to the Knesset; reports say deal will enter into force once Lebanon and Israel send letters to U.S. indicating agreement

Top Israeli ministers convened on Wednesday to give preliminary approval for the maritime border agreement between Israel and Lebanon, which is intended to be a lasting resolution to the longtime dispute.
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  • On Tuesday, negotiators from the two countries said Lebanon and Israel have received a final draft of a mediated maritime border deal from U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein and it "satisfied" all of their requirements.
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    הקבינט המדיני ביטחוני מתכנס לדיון על הסכם אסדת הגז
    הקבינט המדיני ביטחוני מתכנס לדיון על הסכם אסדת הגז
    Political and security cabinet convenes to discuss the maritime border agreement
    (Photo: GPO)
    The draft will later be presented for review to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. According to the parliament’s Speaker Mickey Levy, the cabinet secretary requested for the Knesset to meet despite the ongoing Jewish holiday of Sukkot due to the “importance of the matter.”
    Officials said they would also likely also submit it for a two-week parliamentary review, followed by the full Israeli cabinet convening for final approval, after which Washington could declare the deal in force.
    On the day Washington sends that notice, Lebanon and Israel will then simultaneously send identical coordinates to the United Nations laying out the location of the maritime boundary.
    Prime Minister Yair Lapid's government wants the deal done soon but has denied that the Nov. 1 election is the deadline. Some officials cited imminent plans to extract at Karish gas rig, others the fact that Lebanese President Michel Aoun steps down at month's end.
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    אוניית קידוח
    אוניית קידוח
    Karish gas rig
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "There's a good chance that for months or maybe more there won't be a president in Lebanon, and only the president can sign that kind of agreement," Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev told Ynet Radio.
    According to the recent opinion polls, 40% of Israelis welcomed the agreement, while 29% were against it. Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday criticized Lapid for a “historic surrender” and condemned his decision to approve the deal via cabinet vote only ahead of the upcoming November election.
    Other Israeli politicians also argued that the agreement which involves the demarcation of borders should stand a vote in the Knesset or be submitted to a referendum.

    i24NEWS and Reuters contributed to this report
    First published: 12:33, 10.12.22
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