(October 1, 2020 / JNS) Israel and Lebanon announced on Thursday their intention to participate in U.S.-mediated talks, with the aim of settling their maritime border dispute.
The dispute has been ongoing for decades, but became more urgent following natural-gas discoveries in the Mediterranean Sea.
Washington has engaged in efforts to bring the two sides to the table ever since Israel requested U.S. assistance in the matter in 2011.
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said the talks would be held under U.S. auspices at a UNIFIL base in the city of Naqoura, Ynet reported.
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz confirmed that the two sides would meet, according to the report, saying that “for the first time in 30 years, civil-political negotiations between Israel and Lebanon will take place.”
“Our goal is to bring an end to the dispute between Israel and Lebanon over the demarcation of the Exclusive Economic Zones, to assist in the development of natural resources for the benefit of all the peoples of the region,” he said.
Steinitz extended his thanks to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his staff, as well as to U.S. emissaries David Sutterfield and David Shenkar, for their mediation efforts.
Berri emphasized, however, that agreement had only been reached on a framework for talks.
“This is a framework agreement and not a final one,” said Berri, according to Reuters.
While the United States would push for an agreement as soon as possible, he said, the agreement on a framework was reached prior to Washington’s move to impose sanctions on his aide and right-hand man, Ali Hassan Khalil.
Khalil was sanctioned for corruption and financially supporting the Shi’ite Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, according to the report.
Pompeo welcomed the announcement on Thursday, tweeting: “We welcome today’s announcement by Israel and Lebanon on their agreement to begin discussions on the maritime boundary. This offers the potential for greater stability, security and prosperity for citizens in both nations.”
Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision
One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.
JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.
During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.
Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.