(Photo Credit: Pool photo by Abir Sultan)
The Israeli supreme court has dismissed four petitions submitted by several Israeli organizations, giving the green light to outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, to sign a maritime deal with Lebanon.
Israel’s Chief Justice Esther Hayut, Uzi Vogelman, and Justice Noam Sohlberg reviewed the petitions and reviewed the arguments throughout last week.
Nonetheless, the judges were skeptical about the legal ground used to nullify the agreement, citing the need to accept the deal as the Israeli security establishment considers the matter an urgent “security, diplomatic and economic need.”
In the hearing, Hayut informed those who submitted the petitions, including far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir, of the absence of a law that stipulates a Knesset vote on political agreements.
Hayut argued that the government has the right to regulate the decision and is not obligated to submit the agreement to the Knesset. She added that “in terms of international agreements and treaties, the official reference is government regulations.”
Four days from now, the US mediator and special envoy for energy, Amos Hochstein, will land in Beirut to meet President Michel Aoun, and hand him the official agreement.
A Lebanese and Israeli delegation is expected to gather at the UN base in the border village of Naqoura to sign the deal, officially ending the maritime dispute.
Israeli media reports that the head of the National Security Council, Eyal Hulata, and the Director General of the Ministry of Energy, Lior Shilat, will cross into Lebanon to sign the papers. There will be no official signing ceremony.
Additionally, Lebanon refused an Israeli request to share the same room during the signing.
The sense of urgency displayed by both parties is intended to finalize the maritime dispute as soon as possible, as both Lebanon and Israel are in the midst of an election season that could hinder all progress made.
Lebanon failed again to elect a new president just a few weeks before the end of Aoun’s presidency.
Additionally, the upcoming Israeli election in November might create a political vacuum that would prevent signing the deal.