The "National Bloc" on Lebanon’s maritime deal: “Formalities” at the expense of sovereign rights

The Lebanese National Bloc released the following statement:

The ambiguity surrounding the southern maritime border demarcation agreement raises question marks about the large size of concessions made by Lebanon’s officials to Israel during the negotiation period.

Needless to say, the course of Lebanese maritime borders demarcation has been flawed since its inception in 2007. Perhaps the most significant blunder committed by the Lebanese authorities lies in the adoption of Line 23 instead of Line 29, which would have given Lebanon part of the Karish field - that proved to contain larger fields of gas reserves - and would give credibility to Lebanon in the negotiations.

The Lebanese Army, leading the negotiations between Lebanon and Israel over the demarcation of the maritime borders, also demanded the amendment of Decree 6433 to expand Lebanon’s claims to Line 29. This was also claimed by the “Forces of Change” MPs and members.  

While Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced his country’s decision to reject Lebanon’s amendment request that Deputy Speaker MP Elias Bou Saab described as “just a formality”, the Lebanese remain awaiting the agreement’s details and the reasons for its failure despite the great concessions that originally started with stubbornly and fruitlessly negotiating on Line 23 instead of Line 29 for demarcation.

Today, Israel's rejection of the agreement imposes a different approach to the negotiation process, starting first with the fact that the Lebanese government is the only reference in determining Lebanon's position, as Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s blunt interference in the negotiation at the last-minute weakened Lebanon's position and made it vulnerable to bargaining gambits.

While Israel's response echoed by its prime minister appears to be a result of increasing political and popular pressure on his government after it announced the details of the agreement a few days ago, secrecy prevails on the Lebanese side. It is evident that the three presidents are fiercely competing to broker a futile agreement in which formalities seem to dominate the content, as it turns out that the Lebanese authorities are keener to sign the agreement than to preserve Lebanon’s wealth by claiming Line 29.

After more than 15 years and many false starts of the maritime border demarcation, every Lebanese has the right to know the details of the agreement, demands, and the reasons for ceding Line 29. The Parliament must also hold the government accountable, as it bears a historical responsibility in evaluating the agreement and correcting a long course of failures and concessions in negotiation and demarcation.

Above all what is required today is;

  • To urge the Lebanese government to present the latest maritime border demarcation agreement to the Parliament, explain all details related to the negotiation process and determine the size of concessions.
  • To activate the role of the Lebanese Army’s technical team by directly involving it in the negotiations.
  • To entrust the negotiating mission to the executive authority, in accordance with the constitution, so that the higher national interest is liberated from the claws of heads of Lebanese tribes and militias, inside and outside the institutions.
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