Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri announced today, Thursday, that a framework agreement has been reached to demarcate the land and sea borders between Lebanon and Israel, and considered that the step would lead to the payment of Lebanon’s debts, and at the same time he answered a question about its relationship with the normalization of some Arab countries with Israel.
Berri said that his country would conduct negotiations with Israel to demarcate the land and sea borders, under UN auspices and American mediation.
He added, “The United States has been asked by the two parties (Israel and Lebanon) to act as a mediator and facilitator to demarcate the maritime borders, and it is ready for that.”
He pointed out that what was reached was just a framework agreement that defines the course to be taken in the negotiations, without explaining the scenes of this step.
Berri clarified that these negotiations will be led by the Lebanese army under the auspices of the Presidency of the Republic.
In response to a question about linking this step to the wave of normalization between Israel and some Arab countries, Berri indicated that he “worked on this agreement a decade ago, before the Arabs approached normalization.”
“If the demarcation is successful, there is a very large scope for that to be one of the reasons for paying our debts,” Berri added.
An American welcome
On Thursday, the United States welcomed a “historic” agreement between Lebanon and Israel to start talks on border disputes between them that had been reached “under the auspices of the United States.”
And US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced – in a statement – that this agreement “is the result of relentless diplomatic efforts that lasted about 3 years.”
“The agreement between the two sides on a common framework for the maritime negotiations will allow the two countries to initiate talks that would lead to more stability, security and prosperity for the Lebanese and Israelis alike,” he added.
He considered that this is a very important step and serves the interests of Lebanon, Israel, the region, and the United States, expressing his hope for a “quick” start of talks on the maritime borders.
On the land border, Pompeo spoke of separate discussions at the expert level to resolve unresolved issues on the Blue Line separating the two sides considered at war.
The US Secretary of State said that these discussions in turn carry “positive progress for regional stability.”
It is noteworthy that Lebanon signed in 2018 its first contract for offshore exploration for gas and oil in its territorial waters, and the scope of the contract included a disputed area with Israel.
In May 2019, the Israeli government announced that it had agreed to start talks with Lebanon under the auspices of the United States to “resolve the border dispute.”