‘Final draft’ ready in Israel-Lebanon stand-off – Reuters
Negotiators from Israel and Lebanon have received a final draft of a US-mediated deal, which seeks to resolve a dispute over a hydrocarbon-rich area in the Mediterranean, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Representatives of both nations, Lebanon’s Bou Saab and Israel’s Eyal Hulata expressed hopes that a “historic” agreement may come through, the new agency said.
Qatar’s Al Araby news network earlier cited its sources as saying that the signing of the border demarcation treaty may be scheduled for October 20.
Lebanon and Israel earlier threatened military action over the disputed region.
The row has lasted for years and escalated in early June, after an Israeli firm sent a vessel to the Karish field in the Eastern Mediterranean to prepare for the future extraction of natural gas. Both have conflicting claims over it and the nearby Qana field.
Lebanon is pinning hopes on the undersea resources to rescue its ailing economy. Its militant political party Hezbollah threatened attacks on other Israeli oil and gas projects if the operations in the disputed area went ahead.
In Israel, the dispute has become a campaign issue in the upcoming parliamentary election in November. The opposition led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused incumbent leader, Yair Lapid, of being weak on Hezbollah.
Israeli officials threatened to crush Hezbollah and exact a heavy toll on Lebanon in retaliation for possible attacks.
The hostile rhetoric spurred US-mediated talks and the draft document described by Reuters was penned by US chief mediator Amos Hochstein after several rounds of shuttle diplomacy between Israel and Lebanon.