US mediator to visit Beirut to discuss maritime border with Israel - Lebanese parliament

Asked about Berri's remark, a US Embassy spokesperson referred Reuters to comments on Monday by State Department spokesperson Ned Price who said there were no travel plans to announce.

  London-based Energean’s drill ship begins drilling at the Karish natural gas field offshore Israel in the east Mediterranean May 9, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS)
London-based Energean’s drill ship begins drilling at the Karish natural gas field offshore Israel in the east Mediterranean May 9, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

A US mediator will visit Beirut next week to discuss a dispute over a maritime border with Israel, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said on Tuesday, according to a parliament source and local media.

US envoy Amos Hochstein will visit on Sunday or Monday, Berri told a parliamentary session in Beirut.

Asked about Berri's remark, a US Embassy spokesperson referred Reuters to comments on Monday by State Department spokesperson Ned Price who said there were no travel plans to announce.

Lebanon said on Monday it would invite Hochstein to Beirut to continue negotiations over the issue to prevent any escalation, after accusing Israel of encroaching on contested waters. 

On Sunday a vessel operated by London-based Energean ENOG.L arrived at a gas field that Lebanon says falls within the contested waters.

Re-elected Lebanon's parliamentary speaker, Nabih Berri is pictured as Lebanon's newly elected parliament convenes for the first time to elect a speaker and deputy speaker in Beirut, Lebanon May 31, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR)Re-elected Lebanon's parliamentary speaker, Nabih Berri is pictured as Lebanon's newly elected parliament convenes for the first time to elect a speaker and deputy speaker in Beirut, Lebanon May 31, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR)

Israel's statement

Israel says the Karish field, about 80 km (50 miles) west of the city of Haifa, is part of its exclusive economic zone.

Israel said on Monday the dispute was a civilian issue to be resolved diplomatically with US mediation.

The United States began mediating indirect talks on the issue in 2020.

Lebanon has yet to respond to an undisclosed proposal by the US envoy Hochstein earlier this year.

In a media briefing on Monday, State Department Spokesperson Price said that a deal on the maritime border is possible "if both sides negotiate in good faith and realize the benefit to both countries. To that end, we do strongly support efforts to reach a mutually beneficial agreement."