US mediation pushes Israel, Lebanon on marking maritime border

Sep 29, 2020

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Energy told Al-Monitor that Israel "is aware" of publications about the country resuming negotiations with Lebanon over their maritime border. The spokesperson did not confirm the details published recently in the Israeli press on bilateral talks set to begin after the Jewish High Holidays season in mid-October. Still, the spokesperson confirmed that Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz was the one leading the contacts from the Israeli side.

This affirmation came in reaction to reports last week by journalist Ehud Yaari. On Sept. 25, Yaari revealed that after many years of preliminary negotiations, Israel and Lebanon had reached an agreement to hold concrete talks about marking their maritime border. Apparently, these talks will be conducted in the southern Lebanon town of Naqura, where UNIFIL (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon) headquarters are located. The talks will be held under the auspice of a senior American official and with the presence of a UN rapporteur.

Other reports indicated that the senior American representative would likely be Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Schenker, who had been involved in these recent negotiations. Schenker had visited Israel last week, updating Steinitz and seniors in Israel’s Foreign Ministry on advancement in his contacts earlier this month with Lebanese authorities, especially with parliament speaker Nabih Berri and officials in President Michel....

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