| 5 March 2024, Tuesday |

Lebanese sovereignty lost between land and maritime demarcation, what price will it pay?

After the Lebanese delegation suspended the demarcation negotiations of the disputed maritime borders with Israel, attributing the reason to “the Israeli preconditions in terms of limiting the negotiation to an area of ​​860 square kilometers,” according to President Michel Aoun’s directives, it was assured to everyone then,  that there would be no return to the Naqoura table, especially since he did not specify another date for returning to the negotiating table, knowing that it had been agreed to hold a sixth session, during the fifth session of negotiations between the Israeli and Lebanese delegations, under United Nations’ auspices and American mediation, after a hiatus of about 5 months.

Meanwhile, the American company Halliburton announced yesterday, that it had won a contract to explore for oil and gas for Israel, in the disputed maritime area, specifically in block 9 area.

This announcement confirms that Lebanon has lost its right to negotiate over the aforementioned  block, because “Halliburton” company’s contract has become a reality that cannot be bypassed, despite the denouncing voices, the first of which was the sponsor of the so-called “framework agreement,” the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, who considered that “the establishment of the Israeli entity concluding drilling contracts in the disputed area, violates the framework agreement,” explaining that “the persistence of the Israeli entity in its aggression threatens international peace and security.”

This stance coincided with a tweet by former MP Walid Jumblatt, who described reality clearly, as he considered that this contract “means the burying of the last inch of Lebanon’s sovereignty under its wealth and capabilities.”

A source following up to these negotiations considered in an interview with “Sawt Beirut International,” that since President Michel Aoun refused last April 13, to sign the decree amending the southern maritime borders, which bears the number 6433, and which notes Lebanon’s right to recover an additional 1,430 km of the disputed maritime area, after it began the first round in October 2020 under the pretext of constitutional and legal violations, and a request to refer it to the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, because the decree requires the decision of the government as a whole, but the resigned Prime Minister Hassan Diab confirmed, that it can be replaced with an exceptional approval issued by him and the President of the Republic together, but it was not implemented.

The source continues that the negotiations between Lebanon and Israel officially ended, with the signing of the exploration contract by “Halliburton” company in the disputed area, pointing out that the letters that Lebanese representative to the United Nations was asked to send to the UN, will remain ineffective, as Lebanon was the one who lost the opportunity to regain its right, by failing to send amended decree.

The source asks: “What is the Presidency of the Republic’s stance on this,  and whether matters will be restricted to correspondence, and where is the opposition axis that wants to liberate Jerusalem, while it cannot stop the gas extraction process at a distance, that its missiles do not need to cross the Israeli settlements to reach beyond Haifa, as Hezbollah Secretary Hassan Nasrallah repeats over and over again? Or is it the euphoria of celebrating opening the road to Iranian oil tanks, carries with it the smell of settlements at the expense of the Lebanese people, and some narrow interests related to sanctions against some individuals who have the slogan “freedom, sovereignty, independence.” So, does Lebanon deserve to lose an oil field that can rebuild Lebanon, for the sake of these interests?