A couple of weeks ago, Lebanon held its first US-mediated negotiation session with Israel to demarcate the disputed borders. With the second session due on Wednesday, the Lebanese negotiation delegation is adopting a more aggressive stance.
Sources familiar with Lebanon’s position at the demarcation told The Daily Star that the commander of the Lebanese Army had ordered the Lebanese 4-man negotiation team to push for an additional 1,430 square kilometers to be included in the Lebanese territory.
This step is significant on Lebanon’s part because it pulls what is currently recognized as an Israeli gas field (Karish) into the disputed territory by pushing the limit of the disputed region further southwest.
For context, the disputed region that Lebanon and Israel are negotiating for measures 860 square kilometers.
Now, instead of going by the border as it was recognized in the 1949 Lebanon-Israel agreement, Lebanon will adopt the 1923 boundary between what was the British Mandate over Palestine and the French Mandate over Lebanon as the demarcation line.
The Lebanese team will also negotiate on the basis that their country’s maritime boundary starts from the land point of Ras Al-Naqoura.
In addition to expanding the area of the disputed territory to include the Karish gas field, Lebanon will be laying claim to Block 72, located at the edge of the disputed zone as it was marked initially, which Israel has recently been preparing to explore.
It’s worth noting that Lebanon’s maximalist approach might halt the progress of the energy companies currently hired by Israel to extract resources in the disputed territory.
The second negotiation session comes a week after the appointment of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri. The border demarcation is expected to aid Lebanon’s collapsing economy.