As the long-awaited talks with Israel over the disputed maritime border began, both Hezbollah and Amal made a joint statement about changing the Lebanese delegation.
The main Shia blocs called for the delegation, announced Monday by the Lebanese presidency, to be reformed as it includes civilians and demanded the team to only consist of military personnel.
“This harms Lebanon’s position and interests… and amounts to giving in to the Israeli logic that seeks some form of normalization,” they said in a joint statement issued early Wednesday.
The Lebanese team includes four members: Air force Brigadier General Bassam Yassin, and include Navy Colonel Mazen Basbous, Lebanese oil official Wissam Chbat, and maritime affairs expert Najib Massihi.
Last week, Hezbollah stressed that maritime border negotiations with Israel are not a sign of peacemaking with the “Zionist enemy”.
Echoing this, Lebanon’s caretaker Foreign Minister, Charbel Wehbe, said on Tuesday that holding the talks does not mean that Lebanon’s recognizes Israel as a state nor is it a sign of “normalization” with the enemy state.
On Wednesday, the Lebanese and Israeli delegations met briefly at the UNIFIL headquarters in the Lebanese border city of Naqoura and agreed to meet again in two weeks.
Following the meeting, the head of the Israeli delegation, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, said in a statement that Israel will continue with the talks and “give the process a chance,” reported Reuters.