Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Yad Vashem, March 21, 2019.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement on Thursday announcing and praising the official decision of the Israeli and Lebanese governments to directly negotiate their shared maritime border. first reported the breakthrough last week, that both sides were reportedly agreeing to negotiate after the holidays.

“The United States welcomes the decision by the Governments of Israel and Lebanon to begin discussions on the maritime boundary. This historic agreement between the two parties was brokered by the United States and is the result of nearly three years of intense diplomatic engagement by Ambassador David Satterfield and Assistant Secretary David Schenker.

The agreement between the two parties on a common framework for maritime discussions will allow both countries to begin discussions, which have the potential to yield greater stability, security, and prosperity for Lebanese and Israeli citizens alike. Today’s announcement is a vital step forward that serves the interests of Lebanon and Israel, of the region, and of the United States. Both countries requested that the United States participate as mediator and facilitator in the maritime discussions. The United States looks forward to commencement of the maritime boundary discussions soon, to be held in Naqoura, Lebanon under the U.N. flag and hosted by the staff from the Office of the U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL).

Recognizing the positive experience of the Tripartite mechanism, the United States also looks forward to separate expert-level talks to define unresolved issues related to the Blue Line, which offer the promise of another positive step for regional stability.”

The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) maritime border has been a point of dispute between Israel and Lebanon for decades, with each side drawing their border according to interpretations that best expand their territorial control, though Israel based their demarcation based on standard international practice. The area in dispute is about 860 square meters and potentially holds large offshore gas reserves.


Israel has agreed in principle to a 58:42 split of the area in Lebanon’s favor.

Once the border has been agreed on, both sides will be able to expand their offshore gas drilling into the formerly disputed regions.

There are additional areas of along the land border between Israel and Lebanon that Lebanon disputes, but UN officials has repeatedly confirmed that Israel has withdrawn to the internationally recognized “blue line” and is not occupying any Lebanese territory.

Lebanon’s dire economic condition, exasperated by the massive explosion at Beirut Port, believed to be connected to the Hezbollah terror organization, has apparently made the country more flexible to negotiating directly with Israel to resolve this specific dispute.

The catastrophic explosion further exposed the Lebanese people’s underlying disdain for Hezbollah which has tremendous influence and control over Lebanon, and the Lebanese people’s willingness to openly oppose and resist Hezbollah.

And finally, the growing circle of Arab and Muslim countries normalizing relations with Israel has also made the idea of negotiating with Israel publicly acceptable.

In reality, if Hezbollah, which is the Islamic Regime of Iran’s terror proxy in the region, was removed from the picture, there would be no reason that Israel and Lebanon couldn’t be allies and regional partners.

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