She added in a report published yesterday evening Tuesday: “Lebanon will be the third Arab country to launch public talks with Israel during the past few months, after meeting Lebanese and Israeli officials to negotiate a solution regarding the maritime borders between the two countries. The talks sponsored by the United States focus on an area of 330 square miles in the Mediterranean, where there are large reserves of natural gas, and each party claims its eligibility in this region.
Huge impact on Lebanon and Israel
The magazine believed that resolving this conflict could have a major impact on Lebanon, Israel, and the region at a larger scale, and most importantly, the agreement would be a long-term support for the fragile Lebanese economy.
And she went on to say, “It is not expected that the negotiations will develop to reach a peace agreement in the same manner as the agreements that Israel reached with the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain.”
It quoted the Israeli Energy Minister, Yuval Steinitz, as saying in an interview with Israeli state television: “These are not negotiations for peace or normalization. These discussions will focus strongly on demarcating the economic zone of the two countries to allow exploration of natural resources in the Mediterranean for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries.”
Whereas, a senior Israeli Ministry of Energy official confirmed that Lebanon can obtain revenues of $ 6 billion annually from the small area in conflict, which resembles a pizza on the border between Israel and Lebanon, and without reaching an agreement, that area will remain a source of angry statements between Both parties, and away from those wishing to achieve commercial benefit from them.
Beirut Port bombing a ‘turning point’
Foreign Policy indicated that the United States had tried for years to bring the two parties to the negotiating table, but the turning point in this file was the bombing that occurred in the Beirut port on August 4, which exacerbated the economic crisis in Lebanon, and Hezbollah, the local power broker that represents many of the Shiite Muslims in Lebanon, has been put on the defensive, with many Lebanese accusing Hezbollah, which fought Israel in 2006, of storing dangerous materials in the port.
And she added: “The sense of despair has increased during the past month, after the initiative sponsored by France to form a new government failed to bear fruit, and at the same time the United States imposed sanctions on members of the Shiite Amal movement, which is led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a political ally of Hezbollah. Which led to escalating pressure on the Iran-backed organization; This prompted Berri to state publicly that he agreed to hold talks with Israel.
It quoted the Lebanese political writer Nadim Kteish as saying: “Hezbollah is now isolated, even from its allies. This pushes Hezbollah to think outside the box, and says that there are cards it can still play with, including the redrawing of the maritime borders .. Hezbollah is trying God is to tell the Lebanese that he is not responsible for the economic recession. ”
Hezbollah is in trouble
And she went on: “The maritime conflict between Israel and Lebanon did not appear until the post-war years, when the two countries quarrel over the border corner that extends from land to sea, and Dan Shapiro, the former US ambassador to Israel, said that US attempts to launch talks between the two sides are returning. To the year 2012, when she viewed this hoped-for agreement as an outstanding diplomatic fruit ”.
Shapiro added: “In the event that an agreement is reached, the two parties will be winners, and likewise both of them can start exploring natural gas and obtain revenues from production … The main obstacle was Hezbollah. Because he used to believe that the talks with Israel meant recognition … and commentators said that Hezbollah, which attacked the UAE-Israeli peace agreement, had been attacked by its political opponents in Lebanon during the past few days, because it did the same thing that relied on its attack.
A professor of political science at the University of Haifa and an expert on geopolitical maritime affairs in the eastern Mediterranean, Ehud Eran, said: “This is an achievement of the administration of US President Donald Trump. The United States has been mediating on this issue for years … But what is happening confirms the depth of US involvement and is a reminder that traditional diplomacy can make a difference again.
Foreign Policy said: “Although the talks will not include major points of tension between Israel and Lebanon, such as: the Shebaa Farms, Hezbollah’s missile stockpile, and Israel’s accusations against Hezbollah of violating UN Security Council resolutions after it built weapons depots and military sites in southern Lebanon, Reaching an agreement on economic rights will contribute to creating a balance with escalation, according to analysts.
“At a time when the two countries can reach an agreement related to their financial and energy-related interests, this could lead to de-escalation and normalization, as the agreement on demarcating the maritime borders will be tantamount to recognition of Israel,” said Israeli journalist and expert on Arab affairs, Shimrit Meir. .
Wide regional dependencies
At the regional level, the agreement that will lead to getting rid of the border dispute between Israel and Lebanon will strengthen the US geopolitical alliance between the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, which will undermine the regional ambitions of Russia and Turkey, according to the Director of Strategic Affairs at the Levantine Institute in Beirut, Sami Nader.
Nader added: “This is a key region for the Americans. They have strategic interests in reaching an agreement for the maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean region. Indeed, the Americans have established what can be considered a miniature NATO, which is the alliance that includes Egypt, Israel, Greece and Cyprus. It is not just about gas, it is about the gas pipeline that comes out of Israel To Greece to Europe, this will be the first pipeline from the East not under the control of Russia. ”
Nevertheless, analysts believe that it is not yet clear whether Hezbollah will agree to the final agreement between Lebanon and Israel. While the agreement could lead to curbing US sanctions on Shiite allies and easing French pressure, the success of the agreement could That it would weaken Hezbollah’s influence inside Lebanon, as the source of the revenues from natural gas would be outside the control of the Shiite organization, according to David Makovsky, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former US peace negotiator.
Makovsky added: “The question is whether Hezbollah is bothered by the maritime negotiations between Israel and Lebanon, and whether this is just a temporary tactical move. The conclusion of the agreement could severely weaken Iranian influence, but early celebration is not possible, given the treachery of politics and the lack of ease in anything in the Middle East.