1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Israel and Lebanon sign maritime border deal

October 27, 2022

The deal follows months of US-brokered talks and opens up the possibility of offshore energy exploration in previously disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean.

Libanon Israel Seeabkommen l Schiff der israelischen Marine, Rosh Hanikra oder Ras al-Naqura
Image: Jalaa Marey/AFP via Getty Images

Lebanon and Israel have approved a maritime border deal brokered by the US, Israeli and Lebanese officials said on Thursday.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid's office announced that Israel's government had approved the deal in Jerusalem.

Earlier, Lebanon's top negotiator told reporters that President Michel Aoun had signed a letter approving the deal in Baada.

The signings took place separately, with the official handover set to take place at a UN peacekeeping base.

What did Lebanese, Israeli and US officials say about the deal?

Negotiator Elias Bou Saab said the deal marked the beginning of "a new era."

"We have heard about the Abraham Accords. Today there is a new era. It could be the Amos Hochstein accord," Saab said. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the US-brokered Abraham Accords in late 2020, recognizing Israel.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid praised the maritime border deal, claiming it said that Lebanon had "recognized" Israel in signing it.

"This is a political achievement — it is not every day that an enemy state recognises the State of Israel, in a written agreement, in front of the entire international community," Lapid said.

US envoy Amos Hochstein told reporters that Washington would remain a guarantor for the resolution of any disputes resulting out of violations of the deal. "If one side violates the deal, both sides lose," Hochstein said.

"The good will and good faith efforts by all parties is what will make this move forward," he added, noting that this was acheived despite the fact that the two countries do not have diplomatic ties. "The most important piece in this agreement is that it is entirely in the interest of each country."

Lebanon and Israel sign maritime border deal

What do we know about the deal?

The two parties and the US delegation will meet at the United Nations peacekeeping base in the southern Lebanese town of Naqoura following the signing of the deal.

Lebanon and Israel will then submit their new border coordinates to the UN.

Lapid announced that a deal with Lebanon had been reached on Tuesday following months of US-mediated negotiations.

The deal opens the way for offshore energy exploration, potentially helping to alleviate Lebanon's economic and energy crisis.

A key point of contention in talks was control over the Karish and Qana gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean. According to the agreement signed on Thursday, Israel will be allowed to exploit the Karish field and Lebnaon the Qana field.

The two countries are still officially in a state of war. They have not held direct talks for some 30 years and have engaged in minor skirmishes since a 2006 cease-fire.

Iranian-backed Shiite militia group Hezbollah, which commands significant political power in Lebanon and is historically opposed to Israel, greenlit the proposal, the Reuters news agency cited Lebanese officials as saying.

In an address on Thursday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah hailed the agreement as a "great victory for Lebanon." He also declared an end to an "exceptional" mobilization against Israel.

Nasrallah claimed that the agreement is "not an international treaty and it is not a recognition of Israel."

Hochstein said that the US expects the deal to hold regardless of who is elected Lebanon's next president. Aoun's term is set to end on October 31.

Israel, on the other hand, is facing legislative elections in November, and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has said that if his conservative Likud party forms government it will not be beholden to the deal, which he described as an "illegal ploy."

wd, sdi/rt (AFP, Reuters)