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Thursday, Dec 08, 2022

Lebanon says it has US ‘guarantees’ on Israel border deal if Netanyahu wins

Lebanon says it has US ‘guarantees’ on Israel border deal if Netanyahu wins

Lebanon has secured “American guarantees” that its maritime border deal with Israel cannot be easily scrapped should Benjamin Netanyahu return to the Israeli premiership, Beirut’s chief negotiator said Wednesday.

Israel and Lebanon struck a US-brokered sea border agreement last month that opens up lucrative offshore gas fields for the neighbors that remain technically at war.

Hawkish former Israeli premier Netanyahu, who on Wednesday appeared on the cusp of returning to power, has staunchly opposed the deal, dismissing it as an “illegal ploy” and warning he would not be bound by its terms.

“We obtained sufficient American guarantees that this deal cannot easily be canceled,” said Lebanon’s negotiator Elias Bou Saab, who is also deputy parliament speaker.

If Netanyahu wants to withdraw from the deal, then “he will withdraw from an agreement with the US,” Bou Saab told AFP, noting that Israel and Lebanon had signed separate deals with the United States.

He said Washington had warned that “the withdrawal of any party would have great consequences on both countries.”

“When Netanyahu says that he wants to withdraw, this means that he will be facing the international community,” Bou Saab added.

Netanyahu, who has called the deal a “capitulation agreement,” has not commented on it since Tuesday’s Israeli elections.

Initial results showed his alliance with the extreme right taking a narrow lead.

US President Joe Biden had hailed the “historic” deal, which comes as Western powers clamour to open up new energy production and reduce vulnerability to supply cuts from Russia.

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