Israeli government approves Lebanon maritime border deal

Ministers say deal beneficial for national security and stabilization of the region; agreement presented to Knesset for two-week long review under instruction of attorney general, before final government approval

Itamar Eichner|
The government on Wednesday, approved the principles of the Lebanon maritime border agreement in a majority vote, and was presented to the Knesset where it could be reviewed by legislators during the next two weeks before returning to the government for final a final vote.
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  • According to the Prime Minister's Office, ministers agreed on the importance of the deal with Lebanon, its benefit to national security.
    2 View gallery
    יאיר לפיד, נפתלי בנט, אורנה ברביבאי, גדעון סער ויפעת שאשא ביטון
    יאיר לפיד, נפתלי בנט, אורנה ברביבאי, גדעון סער ויפעת שאשא ביטון
    Political and security cabinet convenes to discuss the maritime border agreement
    (Photo: GPO)
    While there was an overwhelming majority in favor of the agreement, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked voted against it and Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel abstained.
    The government was briefed by experts who presented the main principles of the new deal and its potential for stabilizing the region.
    The agreement was presented to the Knesset on Wednesday evening where legislators will have a two-week period to review it, and will later be presented to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
    After 14-days of parliamentary review, the agreement will be submitted for final cabinet approval, in accordance with the government's work regulations and accompanied by an approval by the AG.
    Lapid is expected to present the agreement later on Wednesday, to leaders of the opposition factions in the Knesset, including Benjamin Netanyahu.
    Israel's Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara said that the government's statutes require that the agreement be reviewed by the Knesset. She said that the government has the right to decide whether the it must stand a vote, but doesn't have to.
    Earlier still, the security cabinet convened to give preliminary approval for the maritime border agreement between Israel and Lebanon.
    This was after negotiators from the two countries on Tuesday said Lebanon and Israel received a final draft of a mediated maritime border deal from U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein and it "satisfied" all of their requirements.
    National Security Council chief Eyal Hulata said in a briefing that Lebanon did not receive 100% of its demands.
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    אייל חולתא
    אייל חולתא
    Eyal Hulata
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
    "Lebanon's interests were not entirely opposed to those of Israel," Hulata said. "They wanted all of the Qana field but were denied.
    "The deal goes against Iran's interest in Lebanon and weakens Hezbollah's hold on the government in Beirut. In Israel's perspective, this was a catalyst to making the deal," he said adding that it will bolster regional security and prevent conflict with Lebanon.
    Hulata noted that for the first time, Israel's territorial borders will be recognized by Lebanon and the U.S., after decades of efforts. Lebanon will submit to the UN a paper stating it has no more maritime border demands from Israel, he said "This is an important achievement. Lebanon is an enemy of Israel and we have many disputes still unresolved," he said.
    "The agreement will bring a strategic regional stability which will allow Israel to produce natural gas without interruption," he said.
    "By adding their consent, Hezbollah – motivated by their own political and economic considerations, has shifted from its previous policy to prevent the Beirut government from reaching any agreement with Israel," he said.
    Hulata said Israel was looking forward to the signing of the agreement that will be in the presence of all partners to the deal, on the Israel Lebanon border at Naqoura, when both countries complete their approval processes.
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