According to the Western media, the Lebanese parliament speaker has informally okayed the US-brokered draft aimed at the future demarcation of the disputed maritime border with Israel but emphasized that the proposed draft must be studied before a final reply to the draft sponsor. According to the details, US Ambassador to Beirut has met Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and the Country’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati to hand- over the draft of the US proposed solution for a final agreement on the maritime boundary line between Muslim majority Lebanon and the State of Israel. The Lebanese Speaker told the media that although the draft meets in principle the Lebanese demands which reject the maritime boundary deal having any impact on the land border between the two countries. According to Berri, the 10-page agreement was in English that requires thorough study before reaching any consensus on the issue.
The two staunch Middle East rivals, the centuries-old historic nation of Lebanon, and the tiny but powerful state of Israel had been at odds over the past several decades mainly due to border disputes between them. Both nations had maritime border disputes which gradually emerged as territorial and natural gas disputes after two natural gas reserves were discovered in Qana and Karish gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean. According to experts, both reserves collectively hold 2-3 trillion cubic feet of gas. According to details, Israel’s Ministery for Energy started development work at Karish gas fields in 2017 while in October 2020, the Lebanese government claimed that about 550 square mile area containing some parts of Karish gas fields is a part of Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), although Israeli government rejected Lebanese claim, the construction work was already halted due to a dispute between Energean and Tasabar oil and gas limited.
The Beruit- Tel Aviv border dispute attracted global attention because Iran-backed anti-Israel powerful Hezbollah militia is a coalition partner in the Lebanese government, that warned Israel of grave consequences if the Jewish state deprived the Lebanon of its fundamental natural reserves. On the other hand, Israel was in haste to realize these gas reserves and concluded agreements with European nations including Italy and Greece for the provision of natural gas through an underwater pipeline via Cyprus. Hence, Lebanon-Israel border disputes halted the construction work of Qana and Kaiser gas fields over the past few years.
Earlier, the UN and the US had facilitated the talks between Lebanon and Tel Aviv in 2021 that failed to bear fruit while US Special Representatives for Lebanon, Amous Hochstein has been shuttling between Lebanon and Israel to seal a deal that would pave the way for offshore energy exploration and defuse one potential source of conflict between Israel and the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah. Currently, American diplomacy between the two combatant nations has succeeded to achieve consensus over a draft bill that ensures the protection of the interests of both competing nations. The Lebanese leadership was of the view that the US-sponsored deal plan meets in principle the Lebanese demands which do not intend to alter land border as a result of maritime demarcation. Beruit and Tel Aviv both urgently need energy supply hence the time would illustrate how two enemies share a plate.