(Photo Credit: Twitter @LBpresidency)
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech on Thursday, 27 October that the maritime border agreement with Israel, which was officially finalized on the same day, is a great victory for Lebanon and cannot be considered normalization, as some accused.
“The document that Lebanon will keep does not bear an Israeli signature, and officials in Lebanon acted precisely so as not to create the suspicion of normalization,” Nasrallah explained, confirming that the Lebanese state dealt with Israel indirectly throughout the entirety of the process.
It was instead “a great victory for Lebanon as a state,” he added, referring to accusations of normalization or recognition of Israel as “baseless.”
In the hours before the speech, Lebanon and Israel finalized the long-awaited maritime border agreement, with Lebanese and Israeli officials each signing the deal separately and marking an unprecedented moment in the Levantine country’s diplomatic history.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun signed a letter approving the agreement at the presidential palace in Baabda, as outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid followed suit at a cabinet meeting in the occupied city of Jerusalem.
During the signing, Lapid referred to the agreement as a “tremendous achievement,” and went as far as to describe it as a Lebanese “recognition” of Israel.
“It is not every day that an enemy state recognizes the State of Israel, in a written agreement, in view of the entire international community,” Lapid said.
In response to his remarks, Aoun emphasized that the agreement is purely “technical,” adding that it “does not have any political dimensions or effects that contradict Lebanon’s foreign policy or its relations with countries.”
The ceremony itself took place at the UNIFIL headquarters in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura, and was attended by a number of Lebanese government and military officials. According to a Russian media correspondent, the Lebanese delegation refused to enter the UN base at Naqoura in protest of the presence of Israeli naval boats patrolling Lebanese waters. The Israeli boats ended up withdrawing shortly after.
Tel Aviv’s delegation was also present on the Israeli side of the Naqoura region as the ceremony at the UN base commenced.
During the speech, Nasrallah announced “the end of all the special measures announced by the resistance” during the buildup of tension throughout the negotiations, a particular reference to Hezbollah’s drone and missile capabilities which the group promised to implement in the event of an Israeli violation, and an assurance that the country will not be going to war.