Lebanon receives finalised version of maritime deal with Israel

Lebanon on Monday received the finalised draft of a US-backed maritime agreement with Israel, according to the The National.

The source said on Monday that Lebanon has not yet received the final U.S. draft on a potential maritime agreement with Israel, and that the agreement hangs on ‘one word.’

The source also said that Beirut is still waiting for the final text, which US special envoy Amos Hochstein will send. The text had been expected immediately after Mr Hochstein spoke with Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Sunday.

The outcome reportedly depends on one critical word, but sources have refused to divulge it. A White House official told The National that the deal was nearing completion. The White House official said the negotiations have reached a critical phase, and the gaps have narrowed.

Lebanon has offered a handful of alterations to a US proposal that would resolve a long-standing maritime border dispute with Israel.

Last week, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that the proposal was ‘on the right track to assert Lebanon’s rights over all its waters.’

A deal between Lebanon and Israel, which has been negotiated indirectly for 15 months by Mr Hochstein, is now thought to be almost signed, and may be signed today.

The long-running maritime dispute is about controlling oil and gasfields that straddle both sides of the border, and accessing them.

For the first time, a maritime border between Lebanon and its southern neighbour would be delineated if a resolution is passed. The two nations have been antagonistic for decades and have engaged in several conflicts.

Image Credit: Dalati Nohra via AP