US in new push to resolve Israel-Lebanon sea border dispute

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield, right, speaks with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil during their meeting at the Lebanese foreign ministry in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (AP)
Updated 15 May 2019
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US in new push to resolve Israel-Lebanon sea border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea
  • Lebanon hopes to unleash offshore oil and gas production as it grapples with an economic crisis

BEIRUT: A senior US official who has been mediating the maritime border dispute between Israel and Lebanon has met with Lebanese officials for a second day on Wednesday, signaling a new push to resolve the matter.
Israel and Lebanon both claim some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to unleash offshore oil and gas production as it grapples with an economic crisis. Washington is mediating between the two countries, which have been officially at war since Israel’s creation in 1948.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield met Wednesday with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. He also met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri for a second time on the visit. Satterfield made no comments to the press.


Israel eases Gaza fishing restrictions after truce

Updated 6 min 58 sec ago
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Israel eases Gaza fishing restrictions after truce

  • Israel extended the fishing limit to up to 15 nautical miles
  • The move restores the fishing zone to the limits set in April ahead of Israel’s general election

GAZA CITY: Israel announced Tuesday it had eased fishing restrictions off the blockaded Gaza Strip after a cease-fire with Hamas ended a deadly escalation earlier this month.
Israel extended the fishing limit to up to 15 nautical miles, said COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations.
The move restores the fishing zone to the limits set in April ahead of Israel’s general election.
Gaza fishing union official, Zakaria Bakr, however told AFP on Tuesday morning it had yet to be informed of any changes.
COGAT did not provide further details, but in April the limit was set at six nautical miles in the north near the Israeli border, 12 off central Gaza and 15 in the south near the Egyptian border, according to the fishing union.
Israel banned fishing completely when the two-day flare-up of violence began earlier this month, but lifted the ban with a restriction of up to 12 nautical miles following the truce.
The 15-nautical-mile limit is the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade.
But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Israeli authorities did not say the move was linked to the truce reached earlier this month with Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip.
But Palestinian officials said at the time of the May 6 cease-fire that it included Israel taking steps to ease its blockade.
Israel media reported late Monday that the cease-fire, brokered by Egyptian and UN officials, is a six-month deal that includes the expansion of the fishing zone as well as the transfer of medicines and other aid to Gaza.
Negotiations are to also take place on issues including Gaza’s severe electricity shortage and border crossings, the reports said.
In return, Hamas would calm protests along the border and halt maritime demonstrations aimed at breaking the blockade.
Hamas denied the reports and Israel did not immediately comment.