Lebanon army chief: No compromise on sovereignty in maritime border negotiations with Israel

Lebanon army chief: No compromise on sovereignty in maritime border negotiations with Israel
Lebanese Army Commander in Chief General Joseph Aoun (C). (File/AFP)
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Updated 20 November 2020

Lebanon army chief: No compromise on sovereignty in maritime border negotiations with Israel

Lebanon army chief: No compromise on sovereignty in maritime border negotiations with Israel
  • Israel and Lebanon launched the negotiations last month with delegations from the long-time foes convening at a UN base to try to agree on the unresolved border

Lebanon’s army chief said on Friday that there would be no compromise on the country’s sovereignty in maritime border negotiations with Israel.

President Michel Aoun on Thursday specified Lebanon’s starting point for demarcating its sea border with Israel under US-mediated talks, in the first public confirmation of a stance sources say actually increases the size of the disputed area.

Israel and Lebanon launched the negotiations last month with delegations from the long-time foes convening at a UN base to try to agree on the unresolved border that has held up hydrocarbon exploration in the potentially gas-rich area.

Israel continues to launching threats to attack Lebanon and tamper with the nation’s internal stability, said Armed Forces Commander, General Joseph Aoun, two days ahead of Lebanon’s Independence Day.

“77 years of independence and Lebanon is currently going through an unprecedented critical and difficult phase on the political, economic and social levels,” the general said, with reference to the recent port disaster that claimed the lives of hundreds amid the coronavirus global pandemic.

The army chief said everyone in Lebanon is counting on the military to face “danger and bury sedition,” vowing that any attempt that threatens civil peace would not be tolerated.

Lebanon celebrates Independence Day on November 22. But the country has cancelled all forms of national festivities marking the occasion amid an outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Israel late Thursday accused Lebanon of changing its position in talks on their disputed maritime border and warned it could lead to a “dead end” that would be damaging for the whole region.

“Lebanon has changed its stance on its maritime border with Israel seven times,” Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz tweeted.

“Its current position contradicts not only its previous one, but also Lebanon’s stance on its maritime border with Syria, which takes into account Lebanese islands close to the border,” Steinitz said.


UN chief hails progress in Libya talks

UN chief hails progress in Libya talks
Updated 54 min 25 sec ago

UN chief hails progress in Libya talks

UN chief hails progress in Libya talks
  • Breakthrough over selection of executive authority that will shepherd country to elections

NEW YORK: The advisory committee of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) has agreed on a mechanism for selecting the new executive authority, whose formation has been the subject of sparring among the various factions in the war-ravaged country.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commended the participants at the UN-brokered talks in Geneva for their “constructive discussions” during their four-day meeting.

The 18-member committee is part of a larger forum that represents all three main regions of Libya.

It has proposed that each region’s electoral body nominate a representative to a three-member presidential council. A prime minister would be chosen by the 75-member forum.

Guterres mentioned in particular “the decisive role played by women representatives and the southern members” in reaching a consensus on a mechanism for the selection of the executive authority, which will shepherd the country to national elections in December, in line with the Tunis Roadmap adopted last November. 

Calling on the members of the LPDF to “participate constructively” in the vote on the selection mechanism, Guterres reiterated the UN’s support for the Libyan people “in their efforts to advance peace and stability.”

Acting Special Representative for Libya Stephanie Williams also hailed the breakthrough at the Geneva talks, at the conclusion of which she told the press that the advisory committee members “had risen to the occasion.”

She added: “They met their responsibility with a constructive spirit, cooperative efforts and a great deal of patriotism. They have taken a decisive step towards meeting the goals that were set in Tunis.”  

Guterres said he was grateful to “the commitment and outstanding leadership” of Williams in moving the political process forward in Libya.

Last week, the Security Council approved Guterres’s nomination of Jan Kubis of Slovakia as his special envoy on Libya and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Kubis had held a similar position in Lebanon and Iraq.

Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Kubis “brings with him many years of experience in diplomacy, foreign security policy and international economic relations, both internationally and in at home in Slovakia.”

Kubis will take up his function in early February. Until then, Williams will continue as acting special representative through January “to ensure a smooth transition.”