Israel rejects Lebanese proposal on maritime border demarcation - report

A Lebanese official warned that "the time for negotiations is not open to infinity."

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

Israel has rejected the Lebanese proposal in the maritime border demarcation talks between the two countries, after holding meetings with American mediator Amos Hochstein, the Lebanese El-Nashra newspaper reported on Thursday.

The same day, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Elias Bou Saab rejected reports in Lebanese media concerning the talks, saying they "contradict the official position that Lebanon communicates on the matter."

"In order to preserve stability, things must end before September."

Lebanese Deputy Speaker of Parliament Elias Bou Saab

Bou Saab stated that while Hochstein, is "keen" to continue his efforts, "the time for negotiations is not open to infinity. The closer we get to the month of September, the more critical time becomes in this file. In order to preserve stability, things must end before September."

The deputy speaker of parliament added that Operation Breaking Dawn in Gaza had delayed progress on the matter on Israel's part and stressed that "we do not have the luxury of time."

Lebanese reports from the past week have indicated that Lebanon's latest proposal includes the waters up to Line 23 and the Qana gas field, some of which go over that line. Line 23 is slightly north of the Karish gas field.

 Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speaks through a screen during a religious ceremony marking Ashura (credit: AL-MANAR/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speaks through a screen during a religious ceremony marking Ashura (credit: AL-MANAR/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Lebanese media expressing pessimism about border talks

While earlier statements by Lebanese officials had expressed optimism about the progress made in the demarcation talks and rejected drone launches by Hezbollah as damaging to the efforts to reach a deal, Lebanese media reports on Thursday concerning the talks expressed concerns of a lack of progress and the risks of a military conflict.

The Lebanese Al-Liwaa newspaper reported on Thursday based on a "well-informed ministerial source" that there was information about the possibility of Israel conducting a "limited military operation" against Lebanon before reaching an agreement in order to avoid being seen as compromising. The source warned that the response to such an operation would be "harsh" and that Hezbollah "will surprise Israel with the number of the missiles that will rain down on large parts of its territory, and therefore will not let it achieve its goal."

In a speech on Tuesday, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah stressed that the movement was waiting in the coming days for Israel's response to Lebanon's demands regarding the border demarcation. "Lebanon and its people will no longer accept the looting of its wealth."

Nasrallah also warned against any attacks on Palestinian officials in Lebanon, stressing that such an action "will not remain unpunished."

Last week, Nasrallah stated that "there is a 50% chance that this issue will be resolved through negotiations and a 50% chance that the situation will lead to war."

During a meeting with Druze Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt on Thursday, Hezbollah political advisor Hussein al-Khalil stated that the movement had launched drones strictly for Lebanon's interests, calling the move "a card of strength for Lebanon to obtain its rights from oil and gas," according to the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar news.

"If Israel remains intransigent and does not allow Lebanon to extract its oil and gas, which is the only lung from which it breathes in these circumstances, the resistance will not stand idly by, and therefore the possibilities are open," said Khalil.

In response to a question about Nasrallah's statements, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric called for everyone "to avoid any rhetoric that would inflame the situation further," during a press briefing on Tuesday.