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October 15, 2022 | Asia Times

Scoring the Lebanon-Israel maritime deal

This much is certain: Declarations of victory, by either side, are premature
October 15, 2022 | Asia Times

Scoring the Lebanon-Israel maritime deal

This much is certain: Declarations of victory, by either side, are premature

The headline-grabbing maritime boundary deal announced between Lebanon and Israel this week produced several winners and losers. Determining who is who is another matter.

Leaders in each country claimed victory after US President Joe Biden unveiled the agreement, while opposition groups on both sides accused their own governments of conceding national wealth. There are also questions about the deal itself and whether it will survive the political storms that are coming.

So, before finalizing the score, we must first identify what was, and remains, at stake.

The long-standing dispute was over a maritime border serving two key purposes: security, and delineation of the countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

On the security side, Israel clearly came out on top. Israel will maintain control over a line that starts 5 kilometers from the coast and stretches into territory that Lebanon considers its own. Lebanon tried to push this line south, but Israel resisted, concerned that a shift would give the Lebanese direct access to Israel’s north.

The tally on economics is more mixed.

Until the early 2000s, when Israel and Egypt began discovering gas reserves in their territorial waters, there had been little economic activity in the eastern Mediterranean. Once gas was found, Lebanon began conducting seismic explorations of its own, which hinted that it too had gas reserves that were commercially viable.

Exploration rights to the most promising Lebanese blocks – 4 and 9 – were awarded to the French oil giant Total in 2018.

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Issues:

Energy Israel Lebanon