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Lebanon And Israel Near Maritime Deal

A U.S.-brokered agreement could end a decade-long maritime dispute, with Israel taking complete control of the Karish gas field in exchange for exclusive Lebanese rights to neighboring Qana.

By רן ארדה - אורי כפיר, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Under the proposal, Greek-French company Energean Oil & Gas PLC will operate both fields, giving a share of revenues to Israel as recompense for claims to parts of the Qana field.

U.S. energy envoy Amos Hochstein will be holding further discussions in Beirut at the invitation of the Lebanese government, where the Foreign Minister said he was more hopeful than ever of reaching an agreement. Lebanese sources claimed Israeli concessions were due to recent threats to the gas fields by Hezbollah, who have described the proposal as a “very important step,” while Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told the cabinet “the proposal fully preserves Israel's national security interests, as well as our economic interests.” However, with a November 1 election approaching, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted he could scrap the deal.

In 2021, the Lebanese government dominated by Hezbollah and its allies had changed its negotiating position on its territorial claim to take in an additional 1,400 square km, including the Karish gas field, the so-called Line 29. Until 2020, Lebanon’s dispute with Israel focused on a more modest 860 square km bordered by Line 23. Later indications from Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s office suggested they do not have “the technical foundations to construct a case for Line 29 because previous governments had failed to produce formal documentation to maintain this position”.