| 2 February 2023, Thursday |

Will Hochstein return soon?

Before addressing the American mediator’s visit, it was indicated that binding parliamentary consultations may take place next Monday, according to what parliamentary sources revealed to SBI, and the expected scenario so far is that President Najib Mikati will be assigned without being able to form.
Returning to Hochstein’s visit, between Baabda, Ain al-Tineh, and the Grand Serail, the American mediator moved, and he was more of a listener than a speaker. What is remarkable about the three meetings is that the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Elias Bou Saab, entered into the line of negotiations, as well as the Director General of Public Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, who were present in the three meetings. It was confirmed that the American envoy had heard a unified answer from the three presidents in response to the proposal that he had previously conveyed to Lebanon last February. Also, according to information, Lebanon agreed to line 23, which includes the Qana field, and dropped Line 29, which includes the Karish field, and submitted the new proposal orally, and renewed the demand for the resumption of indirect negotiations with Israel, wishing the mediator to continue his mediation. It was learned that Hochstein will carry Lebanon’s response to Israel in the coming days, and the President of the Republic wished him to return with a quick answer in view of the developments taking place by referring to the tension in the south and the mutual threats between Israel and Hezbollah over the entry of the Greek ship Karish field. Noting that the ship, according to the information, stopped working at the request of Hochstein, until the picture of the indirect negotiations became clear again. Lebanon has requested that work in the Karish field be halted until the negotiations are crystilized, in an attempt to take advantage of Israel’s need to extract gas, in light of the urgent European demand, as a card through which it can guarantee the improvement of its conditions in the negotiations.
It was remarkable that the Lebanese and American sides in the Grand Serail stressed the need to start drilling for oil for the benefit of Lebanon, which implies a reference to the difficulties that have so far prevented Total from drilling, in addition to the fact that no new company submitted the tenders that were opened, despite extending the deadlines, and it is known that the reasons behind this are political, perhaps as a matter of pressure on Lebanon to end this issue, in addition to the companies’ need for security guarantees amid the inability of the Lebanese authorities to control the pace of Hezbollah and the linkage of the border file to the regional issue. While Mikati’s sources described the atmosphere of the meeting as positive, it was remarkable that no statement was issued about Hochstein’s meeting with Speaker Berri.

  • Sawt Beirut International