Lebanon says issues still pending over sea border talks with Israel

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri chairs a parliamentary session in Beirut, Lebanon. (Reuters/File)
Updated 03 July 2019

Lebanon says issues still pending over sea border talks with Israel

  • Settling the maritime dispute could help both countries exploit offshore energy reserves

BEIRUT: Lebanon insists any demarcation of its sea boundary with Israel be implemented only as part of a wider package including the land border, and wants this in writing, the parliament speaker said on Wednesday.
Senior US official David Satterfield has been shuttling between Lebanon and Israel in an effort to launch the talks between the countries, which have remained formally in a state of war since Israel was founded in 1948.
Settling the maritime dispute could help both countries exploit offshore energy reserves. Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steintiz said on June 19 he expected US-mediated talks to start within a month.
But Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, speaking to MPs in his parliamentary bloc on Wednesday, said two issues were still pending and hoped that "work will be done towards solving them", one of the MPs, Ali Bazzi, said in televised comments.
"The first matter is related to the linking of the land and sea (borders)," Bazzi said. "The American position was talking about a verbal agreement, but everyone knows the stance of Speaker Berri on this issue - we don't even trust Israel in a written agreement, let alone an oral one," he said.
Lebanon also wants the United Nations to sponsor the talks rather than simply host them, Bazzi cited Berri as saying.
A statement from Berri's office on Tuesday said Lebanon wants the UN representative in Lebanon to sponsor the meetings "to deny the Israeli enemy the opportunity of snatching Lebanese rights".
A senior Israeli official has said that a UN peacekeeper position at Naqoura in southern Lebanon would be a possible venue for the U.S.-mediated talks.
Berri, Lebanon's point person with Satterfield, is a close ally of the powerful Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, a political and military organisation backed by Iran that has fought numerous conflicts with Israeli.
Steinitz said it was likely that as soon as the talks begin, energy groups operating in both Israeli and Lebanese waters would be able to carry out the first seismological survey of the disputed area.


Macron slams Turkey’s aggression in Syria as ‘madness’, bewails NATO inaction

Updated 19 October 2019

Macron slams Turkey’s aggression in Syria as ‘madness’, bewails NATO inaction

  • EU Council President Donald Tusk said the halt of Turkish hostilities as demanded by the US is not a genuine cease-fire
  • He calls on Ankara to immediately stop military operations,

BRUSSELS/ANKARA: Macron critizes Turkey's aggression in Syria as "madness', bewails NATO inaction

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has bemoaned Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria as “madness” and decried NATO’s inability to react to the assault as a “serious mistake.”

“It weakens our credibility in finding partners on the ground who will be by our side and who think they will be protected in the long term. So that raises questions about how NATO functions.”

EU Council President Donald Tusk said the halt of Turkish hostilities is not a genuine cease-fire and called on Ankara to immediately stop military operations in Syria.

Dareen Khalifa, a senior Syria analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the cease-fire had unclear goals. 

There was no mention of the scope of the area that would be under Turkish control and, despite US Vice President Mike Pence referring to a 20-mile zone, the length of the zone remains ambiguous, she said.

Selim Sazak, a doctoral researcher at Brown University, believed the agreement would be implemented and the YPG would withdraw.

“The agency of the YPG is fairly limited. If the deal collapses because of the YPG, it’s actually all the better for Ankara,” he told Arab News. “What Ankara originally wanted was to take all of the belt into its control and eliminate as many of the YPG forces as possible. Instead, the YPG is withdrawing with a portion of its forces and its territory intact. Had the deal collapsed because of the YPG, Ankara would have reason to push forward, this time with much more legitimacy.”