On Saturday, US mediator Amos Hochstein and US ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea presented Lebanese President Michel Aoun with a written proposal demarcating the maritime border with Israel. The Lebanese state news agency said Aoun then contacted Speaker of Lebanon’s Parliament Nabih Berri and Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati for a consultation.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun received from U.S. ambassador to Lebanon the proposal by U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein regarding the maritime border with Israel. The President’s office said Aoun has already begun consultations with Lebanon’s PM Mikati and parliament speaker Berri. pic.twitter.com/HGgzO01kIL
— Ariel Oseran (@ariel_oseran) October 1, 2022
The Israeli cabinet is expected to meet this week to consider the proposal.
If Lebanon accepts the proposal, it would resolve an ongoing dispute concerning 330 square miles of offshore territory that includes the Karish gas field. Lebanon claims that the Karish gas field is in disputed territory, while Israel says it lies within its internationally recognized economic waters.
No details were provided about the proposal. Israel’s Channel 13 news said security officials believe a deal will be reached in the next two weeks.
A resolution to the dispute would be timely as the Russian supply of natural gas to Europe was compromised by the war in Ukraine. With its offshore gas fields, Israel could supply 10% of what Russia provided before its invasion of Ukraine.
In addition, Lebanon is undergoing an economic crisis and power shortages.
Hezbollah has threatened to launch a missile or drone attack targeting the gas field if Israel begins drilling there before a maritime border deal is reached. In July, an Energean production and storage vessel was sent to the Karish location. Hezbollah flew three drones towards it that were shot down by the Israeli military.
Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly told the Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati that even if Hezbollah only demonstrates a small show of force, Washington will not be able to restrain Israel from retaliating.
Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid stated that Israel would go ahead and extract gas from Karish with or without a deal on the maritime border with Lebanon. Lapid will be challenged with elections on November 1. Michel Aoun is due to leave office on October 31.
Israel and Lebanon are technically at war with the land border being patrolled by UNIFIL.
The Karish gas field is a natural gas reservoir located about56 miles offshore in the Eastern Mediterranean near the much larger Israeli-owned Leviathan and Tamar gas fields. The Karish and adjacent Tanin gas fields together are estimated to hold 2–3 trillion cubic feet of gas.The Karish field is licensed to London-listed company Energean