| 27 May 2024, Monday |

Lebanon explores with Washington the possibility of resuming negotiations on demarcation

A prominent diplomatic source told Sawt of Beirut International (SBI) that Lebanese diplomatic and political contacts will take place with the United States, to clarify the American position and its reaction after the American “Halliburton” company has been awarded the bid for oil and gas exploration in favor of Israel in the disputed maritime area, mainly in block 9.

Lebanon is also looking to activate talks over the demarcation of the maritime border with Israel, after it has been halted due to refusing the Israeli proposal. Lebanon considered that it is entitled to more than the area accepted by the Americans, meaning its full share of 1,430 km instead of negotiating the Hove Line as the Americans adhere to, and giving Lebanon only 535 km, while the 330 km remain a buffer zone, out of 865 km that Washington has accepted to give it in full to Lebanon through negotiations.

Consequently, Lebanon wants to know from Washington the prospects for re-negotiating, although it weakened its position by not informing the UN Security Council of its new view of its maritime rights, as a basis for negotiating to end the conflict. The President of the Republic withheld Decree 6433 in order to obtain political benefits, and this matter is not appropriate in the matter of defending national rights. Israel took advantage of the Lebanese political and economic confusion to announce the award of drilling.

The strategic expert, Dr. Nabil Khalifeh, told SBI that Lebanon’s maritime borders are above oil and gas, and it is located at 61 percent of the sea. He pointed out that the maritime borders are an extension of the land borders, and there is in the sea what is called the center line, which is 360 km from the Lebanese coast, and the two lines from the Lebanese-Syrian border point, and from the Lebanese-Israeli border point, and up to this center line constitute its area in the maritime borders. Therefore, it is not sufficient for Lebanon to ask the Security Council to ensure that the work of evaluating the Israeli drilling is not located in a disputed area between it and Israel.

The source said that Lebanon’s effort to renegotiate requires an exceptional diplomatic effort, and that in negotiations nothing prevents a retreat from certain positions. Lebanon is now in a position of negligence and weakness. If an understanding is reached with the Americans to relaunch negotiations on the basis agreed upon with them, then it can contain any Israeli move that contradicts Lebanon’s legitimate rights.

Israel is now resorting to force and the imposition of a fait accompli to strengthen its negotiating position. There is the power of law and the power of lawlessness, and the latter is closer to authoritarianism, which can be contained by American pressure when negotiating, provided that Lebanon adheres to a strong legal and internal position, away from employment in private and political interests.

It is required that Lebanon’s position be realistic and strong at the same time, while maintaining the good relationship with the Americans, since without the latter it cannot achieve anything. The source points out that what should enhance the Lebanese position is the internal understanding on clear bases, and the ability to market this understanding with Washington, before dealing with Israel.

  • Sawt Beirut International