Israel Approves Agreement with Lebanon on Maritime Border

The Israeli Government has approved an agreement with Lebanon on a common maritime border which involves undersea gas exploitation.

Israel’s Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, said the step was a diplomatic achievement ahead of a special cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, which paves the way for the deal to be signed after Lebanon gave its approval two weeks ago.

“It is not everyday that an enemy country recognises the state of Israel in a written agreement before the international community,” he said.

Lebanon and Israel are officially in a state of war.

The agreement, signed separately by Israel and Lebanon, is to be handed over to the U.S. mediator, Amos Hochstein, by the negotiating teams at a United Nations (UN) base in Nakura in southern Lebanon Thursday afternoon.

The decades-long conflict for control of the border intensified after the discovery of natural gas resources.

The border conflict concerns 860 square kilometres off the coast claimed by both sides as an exclusive economic zone.

In mid-October, Hochstein handed over the final draft of the deal to both countries.

Talks had been ongoing for the past two years.

According to the agreement, Lebanon is to exploit the Qana gas field and Israel the Karish field.

Lebanese energy expert, Marc Ayoub, said that Qana field is expected to contain a good amount of gas, but will take at least five to six years before Lebanon starts benefiting.

Lebanon hopes that such a deal will help the country’s ailing economy.

Lebanon is experiencing its worst financial crisis in decades.

The World Bank has described the crisis as among the worlds most severe since the mid-1800s. (dpa/NAN)

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