Lebanese president says maritime deal to ‘pull Lebanon out of abyss’

Lebanon views US draft for maritime border deal with Israel as ‘satisfactory’.

Lebanese president says maritime deal to ‘pull Lebanon out of abyss’

Lebanese President Michel Aoun voiced hope Wednesday that a maritime border deal with Israel will “pull Lebanon out of the abyss.”  

“The completion of the demarcation of the southern maritime border will enable Lebanon to extract oil and gas, and thus end Lebanon’s crisis," he said during a meeting in the capital Beirut. 

He termed the maritime deal as “a gift to the Lebanese people.” 

Since late 2019, Lebanon has been grappling with a severe economic crisis, including a currency devaluation and fuel and medicine shortage. 

On Tuesday, the Lebanese Presidency said a US draft on maritime border demarcation with Israel was “satisfactory”, saying the draft preserves the country’s "rights to its natural wealth." 

Earlier Wednesday, Israel’s Security Cabinet voted to approve the maritime deal with Lebanon. The Israeli government and Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) are yet to convene to review the terms of the deal. 

The agreement, the first one on border demarcation between the two nations that have been at war since 1948, still needs to be formally ratified, for which no date has been set yet. 

Lebanon and Israel have been locked in a dispute over a maritime area of 860 square kilometers (332 square miles), according to maps sent by both countries to the UN in 2011. 

Negotiations over the territory in the Mediterranean Sea, which contain part of the Karish gas field and Qana, a prospective gas field, have been ongoing since 2020.