(Photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Israel’s interim Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, confirmed on 3 October that Tel Aviv will receive royalties from Lebanon’s offshore gas extracting operations as part of a US-mediated proposal to resolve the two nations’ maritime border dispute.
Lapid made the revelation while blasting his political rival, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for “not understanding” the proposed deal with Lebanon.
“Some facts for Netanyahu, simply because he did not see the agreement: Israel receives 100 percent of its security needs, 100 percent of the Karish field, and even some of the profits of the Lebanese reservoir,” Lapid tweeted on Monday morning.
קצת עובדות לנתניהו, פשוט כי הוא לא ראה את ההסכם: ישראל מקבלת 100% מצרכי הבטחון שלה, 100% ממאגר כריש ואפילו חלק מהרווחים של המאגר הלבנוני. אני מבין שכואב לכם שלא הצלחתם להשיג הסכם כזה, אבל זו לא סיבה להתגייס לתעמולה של נסראללה. אפשר לפרגן קצת לממשלה שעובדת ומביאה תוצאות לעם ישראל.
— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) October 3, 2022
Netanyahu earlier accused Lapid of “shamefully surrendering” to the threats of Hezbollah. He, along with his far-right Likud party, have also been trying to mobilize Israel against signing the agreement to end the maritime border dispute.
During a session with cabinet members on Sunday night, Lapid revealed the details of the deal. According to him, the royalties Lebanon will have to pay Israel “will be worked out in advance” between Tel Aviv and French energy company Total, which has the Lebanese license to extract gas from the prospect Qana field.
According to an unnamed source that spoke with Reuters on 3 October, Lior Schillat, the director-general of Israel’s Energy Ministry, was in Paris on Monday “speaking with officials form Total … to set up a mechanism whereby Total would pay Israel a portion of the royalties from any gas it produces in Qana.”
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz expressed his support for the deal, calling it “an agreement with great economic value.”
He also said that, although the proposal does not guarantee an end to the “friction” with Lebanon, it would “no doubt bring about stability, deterrence, and in the long run, weaken the country’s dependence on Iran.”
US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, met with Lebanese authorities on 1 October and handed them the final draft based on the efforts of US mediator, Amos Hochstein.
An identical draft was handed to Israeli authorities.
But despite the confidence of Beirut and Tel Aviv that a deal is likely before the elections in November, both legal hurdles in Israel, as well as fear of economic normalization in Lebanon, may derail the entire process.