US mediator in Lebanon-Israel maritime talks to arrive in Beirut this week

The U.S diplomat mediating talks between Lebanon and Israel over their shared maritime border, Amos Hochstein, is set to arrive in Beirut at the end of the week, a statement from Lebanon’s presidential palace said on Sunday.

The statement said Hochstein would be in Lebanon to follow up on discussions with the Lebanese side on the delineation, without providing more details.

Meanwhile the U.S. embassy in Beirut declined to comment.

Hochstein was last in Beirut in late July for meetings with Lebanese officials.

A Lebanese official said the proposal would allow Lebanon to explore the entire Qana Prospect, an area with the potential to hold hydrocarbons which crosses beyond Line 23, a maritime line that was originally Lebanon’s demand during negotiations.

Hochstein told local broadcaster LBCI after that trip that he expected exploration would move forward in the area once the companies involved had the “legal and diplomatic certainty” that would result from a deal.

“I remain optimistic that we can make continuous progress as we have over the last several weeks and I look forward to being able to come back to the region to make the final arrangement,” Hochstein said.

This comes as Lebanese protesters on Sunday sailed down the country’s coast in dozens of fishing boats and yachts toward Israel carrying Lebanese flags and banners, with slogans in Arabic, French, and Hebrew expressing what they say is Lebanon’s right to its maritime oil and gas fields. Whilst Lebanese and Israel navy vessels were present, no tensions occurred.

Image Credit: AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari