Lapid rejects Lebanese revision requests in maritime border deal

Senior official says negotiating team told to refuse substantive changes proposed by Lebanon even if deal collapses; says drilling will begin in Karish gas field when possible; Gantz says Israel will respond militarily to any attack from Hezbollah
Ynet, Reuters|
Israel on Thursday rejected revisions requested by Lebanon to a U.S.- mediated border demarcation proposal, throwing into doubt years of diplomatic efforts to enable both enemy countries to extract gas in or around a disputed Mediterranean prospect.
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  • A senior official said Israel received Lebanon's comments on the draft of an agreement on the disputed maritime border and the natural gas drilling rights - and rejects them.
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    ישיבת ממשלה
    ישיבת ממשלה
    Yair Lapid
    (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi)
    "Prime Minister Yair Lapid was briefed on the substantive changes Lebanon was seeking to make to the agreement and instructed his negotiating team to reject them," the official said.
    "Lapid said Israel would not compromise on its economic and security interests, even if it meant no deal would be reached anytime soon," he said.
    "Israel will begin production of natural gas from its Karish field as soon as that is possible. If Hezbollah or anyone else attempts to cause harm to the rig or threaten Israel, the negotiations on an agreed maritime border will immediately stop and Hassan Nasrallah will have to explain to the citizens of Lebanon why they will not have a natural gas rig in production or an economic future," the official said.
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    אסדת כריש
    אסדת כריש
    Karish natural gas rig
    (Photo: AFP)
    Defense Minister Benny Gantz said earlier that whether a deal is singed or not, Israel is prepared to defend its infrastructure and sovereignty.
    "If Hezbollah attempts to attack – the military cost to Lebanon and the Iran backed group will be very grave," Gantz said. "We are not eager for war but are prepared for one," he said.
    In an earlier interview, Energy Minister Karin Elharar said Israel will not concede any of its territory.
    "I am versed in the details of the draft agreement and can say it is good for Israel," she told Ynet in an interview.
    "We did not concede one centimeter of the demands of our security officials, nor will we. If the Lebanese are not interested in a deal, there will not be one," she said.
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    קרין אלהרר
    קרין אלהרר
    Energy Minister Karin Elharar
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    The minister also slammed opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu for saying a government under his leadership, would not be bound by an agreement with Lebanon should one be signed.
    "He is working in the interests of Hezbollah and their clip announcing they had won, Elharar said. "This is something I would expect from our enemies and not an Israeli elected official. It is harmful to our security," she said.
    Netanyahu made his comments last week after news of a pending agreement broke. He accused Lapid of handing Israeli territory to its enemies.
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