Multiple reports on the Lebanese-Israeli maritime boundary dispute are collected together below.

Reports: Sea Border Talks to Restart Monday, U.S. Pushed for Resumption – Naharnet

by Naharnet Newsdesk April 30, 2021.

The suspended negotiations between Lebanon and Israel over the demarcation of their maritime border will resume next week following the arrival in Beirut of U.S. mediator John Desrocher, who is expected in the country on Saturday or Sunday, informed sources said.

“The decision to resume the negotiations came based on a U.S. move, which has been met by a positive Lebanese response, and the exact date will be announced in the coming hours,” a Lebanese military source and a source informed on the Presidency’s stance told Asharq al-Awsat daily in remarks published Friday.

The talks “will begin from the point at which they were interrupted, without any change to the composition of the Lebanese delegation,” the sources added.

The source informed on the Presidency’s stance meanwhile said that the talks “will likely begin on Monday, May 3, which is a semi-final date until now, pending an official declaration.”

“The importance now lies in the resumption of the negotiations and in the fact that they will pick up from where they stopped six months ago, especially that the (Lebanese) decree to expand the border has not been signed until the moment,” the source added.

“For the Americans, the priority now is for the resumption of the talks from where they stopped, without preconditions from both sides, unless Desrocher is carrying a new proposal as a middle ground solution, which would be discussed around the negotiations table,” the source went on to say.


Israel, Lebanon aim to restart maritime border talks – Jerusalem Post

We are examining the renewal of talks based on the known disputed territory,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz’s spokesman said.


The proposed Israel-Lebanon maritime border. (photo credit: Courtesy)
The proposed Israel-Lebanon maritime border. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Israel and Lebanon are considering relaunching negotiations on their maritime border,, the Energy Ministry confirmed on Thursday.“

We are examining the renewal of talks based on the known disputed territory,” said Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz’s spokesman. Pro-Hezbollah Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar said talks will take place on Monday, but the Israeli side said the date has yet to be finalized.

Israel and Lebanon entered negotiations last year for the first time in 30 years, with US mediation. If the talks restart, it will be the first time the Biden administration will be involved.

The “known disputed territory” refers to a triangular area of the Mediterranean Sea that starts at the countries’ land border, and is 5-6 km. wide on average. The area constitutes about 2% of Israel’s economic waters.During the previous four rounds of talks, in November and October 2020, Lebanon upped its demand with a line extending much further south, increasing the disputed area from about 860 to 2,300

Two weeks ago, Lebanese Public Works and Transportation Minister Michel Najjar announced that the greater demands would be submitted to the UN, but Lebanese President Michel Aoun did not advance the process.

Aoun is expected to meet with the military delegation conducting the talks in the coming days to discuss the Lebanese position, Al Akhbar reported.Israel drew its own map in response to Lebanon’s increased demands, claiming more than double the area of the Mediterranean Sea that is currently in dispute. The map was first published by The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

The Energy Ministry only plans to use the map if Lebanon moves forward with submitting its new position to the UN.Israel and Lebanon hope that setting the border will encourage further gas exploration. Israel already pumps significant amounts of gas from the Mediterranean, but Lebanon has yet to do so.

Last week, following a meeting with Aoun, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale said negotiations between Israel and Lebanon “have potential to unlock significant economic benefits for Lebanon. This is all the more critical against the backdrop of the severe economic crisis the country is facing.”

The Energy Ministry source expressed hope that the talks will restart under the Biden administration and be productive.Reuters contributed to this report.


U.S. envoy: Maritime border talks with Israel will help crisis-hit Lebanon – YNET

In Beirut, American diplomat David Hale says resolving border dispute would ‘have potential to unlock significant economic benefits’; stalled negotiations holding up offshore exploration

Reuters | Published: 04.15.21

An Israeli naval vessel near the disputed maritime border with Lebanon
(Photo: Archive)

The two neighboring enemies launched negotiations last year, a culmination of years of U.S. diplomacy, which have since stalled. The dispute has held up offshore exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. While Israel pumps gas from offshore fields, Lebanon has yet to find commercial reserves.

UN peacekeepers patrol the coast road near Naqura, the last town in Lebanon before the border with Israel
UN peacekeepers patrol the coast road near Naqura, the last town in Lebanon before the border with Israel
(Photo: AFP)

Hale also blamed Lebanese leaders for failing to end a deadlock in cabinet talks to tackle the collapse, which has crashed the currency.He warned that “those who continue to obstruct” progress open themselves up to punitive actions, without naming individuals.

 Lebanese President Michel Aoun, right, meets with U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, right, meets with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale
(Photo: AP)

As part of its pressure campaign on Tehran, Washington escalated sanctions last year against Lebanese allies of Hezbollah, hitting former ministers on charges of corruption and ties to the Iran-backed group, which it classifies as terrorist.Hale accused Hezbollah and Iran of undermining the state after meeting on Thursday with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a political ally of the group whose son-in-law became a target of U.S. sanctions.

דגל חיזבאללה  בדרום לבנון
The Hezbollah flag in southern Lebanon
(Photo: Reuters)

Hale said that talks with Iran on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal could foster regional stability but “would only be the beginning of our work” as the United States addresses “the other elements of Iran’s destabilizing behavior”.

Reports: FPM Trio Convince Aoun, Hale to Soften Sea Border Stances – Naharnet

MPs Elias Bou Saab and Alain Aoun and President Michel Aoun’s adviser Salim Jreissati have convinced the president to shelve the proposed amendments to Decree 6433 to give a chance to the resumption of sea border negotiations with Israel, media reports said.

“This trio met U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale once he arrived in Beirut on Tuesday night and before he kicked off his meetings with top officials and political leaders,” a prominent parliamentary source told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in remarks published Sunday.

“Discussions tackled three topics: the amendment of Decree 6433 which will certainly lead to the suspension of talks between Lebanon and Israel, the European sanctions on those obstructing the government’s formation, and dropping the preconditions that are still delaying its formation,” the source said.

“The trio communicated with Aoun, prior to his meeting with Hale, and with Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil, and managed to convince the president of softening his stance to facilitate the resumption of negotiations, especially that he has no interest in entering a political clash with the U.S. administration,” the source added.

Aoun, according to the source, then agreed to shelve the amendments and expressed desire to “show openness to Hale in a bid to start a new chapter with Washington and mend the ties following his protest against the U.S. sanctions imposed on Bassil.”

Report: U.S. Relays ‘Strict’ Message to Lebanon on Maritime Talks – Naharnet

The United States reportedly relayed a “strict” message to Lebanon through the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, regarding the indirect maritime demarcation talks between Lebanon and Israel, media reports said on Monday.

According to private news portal, Lebanon Debate, Lebanese authorities received a firm message from Shea stipulating that Israel will withdraw completely from the demarcation negotiations with Lebanon, and will start exploration in the disputed area, if the maritime boundary decree is amended and Line 29 is approved.

The first round of indirect negotiations to demarcate the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel began on October 14, under a US mediation and the auspices of the United Nations.

The talks aim to resolve a dispute over their maritime borders, which has hindered oil and gas exploration in the potentially gas-rich region.

The latest session of talks between Israel and Lebanon was put off after Israel accused Lebanon of inconsistency.

The two sides have been negotiating based on a map registered with the United Nations in 2011, which shows an 860-square-kilometer patch of sea as being disputed.

But Lebanon considers that map to have been based on wrong estimates and now demands an additional 1,430 square kilometers of sea farther south, which includes part of Israel’s Karish gas field, according to Lebanese energy expert Laury Haytayan.

Source Naharnet

Lebanon Extends Area Claimed in Border dispute with Israel – Naharnet

SavedAdd titleLebanon Extends Area Claimed in Border dispute with Israel – Naharnet

Outgoing minister of public works Michel Najjar said Monday that he has signed a decree that would increase the area claimed by the Mediterranean country in a maritime border dispute with Israel.

Najjar told reporters that he has signed an amendment of the decree that would formally extend Lebanon’s claims by 1,430 square kilometers (550 square miles). The unilateral move by Lebanon is likely to anger Israel and the U.S. who are not expected to recognize Beirut’s extension of the disputed area.

Lebanon and Israel began indirect talks with U.S. mediation in October to reach a deal over the disputed area that is believed to be rich with oil and natural gas deposits. The meetings that stopped few weeks later were being held at a U.N. post along the border of the two nations that remain technically in a state of war.

The negotiations were the first non-security talks to be held between the two countries, which have no diplomatic relations following decades of conflict. Resolving the border issue could pave the way for lucrative oil and gas deals on both sides.

In late October, the Lebanese delegation to the talks — a mix of army generals and professionals — offered a new map that pushes for an additional 1,430 square kilometers (550 square miles).

This area is to be included in Lebanese territory on top of the already disputed 860 square kilometer- (330 square mile-) area of the Mediterranean Sea that each side claims is within their own exclusive economic zones.

Najjar said, however, that the decree still required the signatures of the defense minister, prime minister and president to go into effect.

Later in the day, the decree was signed by caretaker PM Hassan Diab and caretaker Deputy PM and Defense Minister Zeina Akar.

The announcement came as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale was expected in Lebanon later this weeks to meet Lebanese officials.

Lebanon is passing through its worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history and had plans to start drilling in search for oil and gas in the disputed area this year.

Israel has already developed offshore natural gas rigs, producing enough for domestic consumption and export abroad. Lebanon hopes that its own oil and gas discoveries will help alleviate its long-running economic troubles.

It was not immediately how the U.S. and Israel would respond to the Lebanese decision.


Source Naharnet Associated Press

Israel Warns of Counter-Steps after Lebanon Extends Disputed Sea Area – Naharnet

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz on Monday warned that any “unilateral” Lebanese steps regarding the sea border demarcation will be met by “Israeli counter-steps,” shortly after a Lebanese minister said he had signed a decree that would increase the area claimed by Lebanon.

“It seems that Lebanon prefers to torpedo the negotiations instead of making an attempt to reach solutions,” Steinitz said, according to Russia’s RT Arabic television.

“This is not the first time in the past 20 years that the Lebanese have changed their maritime maps for propaganda purposes and to express a ‘patriotic stance’, and by this they are obstructing themselves one time after another,” the Israeli minister added.

“At a time other countries in the region such as Israel, Egypt and Cyprus have been developing their natural gas fields for several years to provide prosperity to their citizens, the Lebanese are staying behind and launching fiery statements that will achieve nothing,” Steinitz added. Source

Aoun Demands Israel Halt Offshore Gas Exploration in Disputed Area – Naharnet

President Michel Aoun on Thursday demanded Israel halt all exploration in an offshore gas field on Lebanon’s southern border, as part of an ongoing dispute over a shared sea frontier.

Lebanon and Israel, which are still technically at war, last year took part in indirect U.S.-brokered talks to discuss demarcation to clear the way for offshore oil and gas exploration.

But those talks stalled after Lebanon demanded a larger area, including part of the Karish gas field, where Israel has given a Greek firm rights for exploration.

“Lebanon is within its rights to evolve its position according to its interest and as suitable under international law,” Aoun told visiting United States envoy David Hale.

Aoun “demanded international experts… draw the line according to international law,” the presidency said in a statement.

He also called for a “commitment to not carrying out any oil or gas activities and not starting any exploration in the Karish field and its adjacent waters” until the matter was settled.

The talks last year were supposed to discuss a Lebanese demand for 860 square kilometers of territory in the disputed maritime area, according to a map sent to the United Nations in 2011.

But Lebanon then said the map was based on erroneous calculations and demanded 1,430 square kilometers more territory further south, including part of Karish.

Lebanon’s caretaker public works minister this week signed a decree to make official Lebanon’s demand for the larger area.

Aoun still has to sign it before Lebanon sends it to the U.N. to make its new demand official.

For his part, Hale on Thursday said the U.S. was ready to continue brokering Israel-Lebanon talks “on the basis on which we initiated these discussions,” appearing to reject the Lebanese move towards demanding a larger area.

Source Agence France Presse