| 8 December 2023, Friday |

A diplomatic source to “ Sawt Beirut International”: Maritime negotiations will start from closure point

Diplomatic sources revealed to “Voice of Beirut International”, that the indirect Lebanese-Israeli negotiations that will be held under American auspices in Naqoura, starting tomorrow, Tuesday, will start from the point at which the negotiations stopped at the end of the year 2020. That is, from discussing Line 23 and not Line 29, around which the decree was frozen, and which stipulates that the new area that Lebanon must obtain is 1,430 square kilometers. It is noteworthy that Line 23 is the so-called “Hawk Line”, which gives Lebanon 865 km.

The sources clarified that Lebanon had stopped the negotiations, after it has found, after returning to companies specialized in defining the maritime borders, that it should take more of the marine area, which is its right, not just the 865 square kilometers.

Next Monday, the American delegation will be in Beirut, headed by Ambassador John DeRoucher. US State Department said in the statement about the visit, “The American team will mediate talks between representatives of the governments of Israel and Lebanon over the disputed maritime borders, starting May 4th. The resumption of talks is a positive step towards a long-awaited solution.” It is not clear yet which American character will receive the demarcation file immediately after Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker left office, and whether his successor, Victoria Coates, who is awaiting approval by the Senate, will take over her appointment. It is noteworthy that Undersecretary David Hale has completed his mission, and his successor Victoria Nuland will assume her mission two weeks later, following the approval of the Senate on her appointment last Thursday.

The sources emphasized that if Lebanon fixes its maritime borders, companies that want to invest in oil exploration and extraction will come to do their work. And that companies will stay away from this issue if Lebanon resorts to international litigation.

Also, fixing the borders and starting exploration and extraction of oil energy will establish a climate of calmness  and stability prevailing on the borders to the south, which is an indication for its prolongation, because stability is one of the basic factors for oil extraction.

According to the sources, the delegation will survey the Lebanese data on the resumption of negotiations. And that the American mediator noticed that there were indications that could allow the resumption of negotiations, which prompted Washington to resume the work of mediation between the two parties. And the Americans have always said, that when there are indications from both sides, they are ready to continue their role. Especially since the Israeli elections in the past were still uncompleted, and there was no atmosphere in Israel that suggested the possibility of resuming mediation.

What is important now is how Lebanon develops its negotiating stance after all that happened to Decree 6433 in order to preserve its right. And internal Lebanese contacts took place prior to the arrival of the delegation, which included the necessity of clarifying the point where Lebanon sticks to and the final line of the maritime borders. Noting that when Lebanon presented an advanced proposal, Israel presented an advanced proposal in return as well.