Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Tuesday that Israel and Lebanon have reached a US-brokered agreement to settle their long-disputed maritime border. The move will potentially unlock significant offshore gas production.
“Israel and Lebanon have reached an historic agreement settling the maritime dispute,” said a statement from Lapid’s office. Lapid also hailed “an historic achievement that will strengthen Israel’s security”.
Lebanon’s presidency had earlier said that a proposed final text submitted by US envoy Amos Hochstein was “satisfactory to Lebanon”.
Talks on resolving the border dispute between the neighbouring countries have faced several roadblocks ever since they started in 2020.
Earlier on Tuesday, Lebanon’s lead negotiator said that the country has secured its “full rights” in the latest text drafted by US mediators. “Lebanon has obtained its full rights, and all of its remarks have been taken into account,” said lead negotiator Elias Bou Saab, the deputy speaker of parliament, after handing the draft to President Michel Aoun.
“Today we have come to a solution that satisfies both parties.”
Last week, the negotiations suffered a jolt when Israel said it planned to reject Lebanon’s proposed changes to Hochstein’s final draft. But the talks finally culminated in acceptable terms for a final deal, both the countries said.
The decision welcomed on both sides of the border has raised hopes that years of negotiations have finally borne fruit, allowing cash-strapped Lebanon to develop potentially lucrative offshore gas reserves.
(With inputs from agencies)