Israeli minister frustrated with Lebanon over proposed sea border talks

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on June 19 he expected US-mediated talks to start within a month. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 July 2019

Israeli minister frustrated with Lebanon over proposed sea border talks

  • Lebanon insisted any demarcation of its sea boundary with Israel be implemented only as part of a wider package including the land border — something Israel has previously ruled out
  • Israel and Lebanon have long disagreed on border demarcations in the eastern Mediterranean

TEL AVIV: Israel’s energy minister voiced frustration on Friday with what he called Lebanon’s failure to agree to US-mediated talks on setting their maritime border, suggesting Iran-backed Hezbollah was applying pressure on Beirut.
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.
Israel and Lebanon have long disagreed on border demarcations in the eastern Mediterranean, an issue that gained prominence in the past decade when large deposits of natural gas were found there.
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on June 19 he expected US-mediated talks to start within a month. On Wednesday, Lebanon insisted any demarcation of its sea boundary with Israel be implemented only as part of a wider package including the land border — something Israel has previously ruled out.
Steinitz sounded less upbeat on Friday.
“(The) Lebanese on the one hand really want to develop their natural resources, and the unresolved dispute with Israel is disruptive for them — for us too, but for them more,” Steinitz told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM.
But Steinetz added Lebanon could also be facing “internal pressure, that they (are) under the sway of fear of Hezbollah,” referring to Lebanon’s most powerful armed force. Hezbollah is also part of the Lebanese coalition government.
Steinitz said Lebanon had yet to formally refuse the overture for mediation. He said that “in a week, 10 days we will know finally if we are on the way to talks or if this matter will be postponed by another one, two or three years.”
Officials at the US Embassy in Jerusalem were not immediately available for comment.


Sudan’s deposed Bashir questioned over 1989 coup: lawyer

Updated 49 min 51 sec ago

Sudan’s deposed Bashir questioned over 1989 coup: lawyer

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s former president Omar Al-Bashir appeared on Tuesday before a prosecutors’ committee over the 1989 coup that brought him to power, his lawyer said.
Bashir was “brought to be investigated in the case of the alleged 1989 coup,” said his lawyer, Mohamed Al-Hassan, who did not attend the hearing.
The lawyer also told reporters that in his view the hearing was “not a judicial matter, it’s a political matter.”
In 1989, Bashir, a brigadier at the time, seized power in an Islamist-backed coup that toppled the elected government of prime minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi.
The former president was himself ousted by the army in April of this year after months of nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.
On November 12, Sudanese authorities filed charges against Bashir and some of his aides for “plotting” the 1989 coup. The prosecution established a special committee for the case.
If found guilty, he could face the death penalty or life imprisonment under Sudanese law.
Sudan is now ruled by a joint civilian and military sovereign council, which is tasked with overseeing a transition to civilian rule as demanded by the protest movement.
Bashir is being held in Kober prison in a separate case, for which he has been on trial since August, on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds.
A verdict is due in that case on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Bashir was taken from Kober prison to the prosecutor’s office in a convoy under strong armed protection.
After the hearing, which lasted about an hour, a crowd gathered in front of the prosecutor’s office, chanting “Kober prison — the best place for you!” and “you killed people!“
Wearing the traditional white Sudanese jalabiya and turban, Bashir raised his hands to the crowd, before he set off back toward Kober in the convoy.
The veteran leader is also wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity over his role in the war in Sudan’s western Darfur region.
To date, Sudanese transitional authorities do not want to extradite the former leader to The Hague.