Israeli court clears way for Lebanon maritime border deal

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JERUSALEM – Israel’s Supreme Court cleared the way for the signing of a maritime border agreement with Lebanon on Sunday, rejecting claims that the agreement required parliamentary approval.
The signing is likely to take place later this week.

Israel and Lebanon, which are officially at war, agreed earlier this month to terms on a US-brokered accord to demarcate their disputed maritime border, a step that will likely allow production at Mediterranean gas resources to resume.

Four right-wing Israeli factions filed legal challenges to the agreement, arguing that moderate Prime Minister Yair Lapid was handing over “sovereign” Israeli territory that required parliamentary consent.

The petitions also contended that agreements to relinquish territory should not be concluded during an election period, which Israel holds on November 1.

Opponents of the agreement also demanded that the government hold a referendum on the conditions.

However, in a judgement issued Sunday, a three-judge panel of Israel’s highest court dismissed all objections against the contract, with the entire reasoning to be revealed later.

The verdict implies that Lapid’s cabinet, which has also accepted the agreement’s parameters, can now provide final, binding approval.
According to Israeli and Lebanese reports, the signing will take place this week, with officials from each countries signing in different places.

It will enter into force as soon as the US sends notification that it has gotten separate permissions from Lebanon and Israel.

The two countries will then share maritime border coordinates with the UN.

The agreement gives Israel complete control of the Karish gas field, which is anticipated to begin producing gas within weeks.

Lebanon will have complete rights to manage and explore the so-called Qana or Sidon reservoir, parts of which are located in Israeli territorial waters, with the Jewish state getting a portion of the earnings.

Right-wing opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who could be re-elected as Israel’s prime minister following the election, has warned that he will not be bound by the conditions of a deal with Lebanon.

Source: AFP

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