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Israel and Lebanon ready for US-mediated maritime border talks

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Israel and Lebanon ready for US-mediated maritime border talks

Photo: Albatross

Israel and Lebanon are expected to participate in US-mediated maritime border talks at the UN base in Naqoura any time starting today.

These will be the first direct negotiations between the two neighbouring countries in thirty years. Tensions revolve around the natural gas-rich Eastern Mediterranean coast, which both parties claim to be within their borders.

Lebanon is currently undergoing a huge financial crisis, exacerbated by a massive port explosion in August that destroyed its vibrant business district. It faces crippling debt following an 80% currency depreciation since last year while unemployment and poverty are also on the rise. The effects of the economic meltdown have left many Lebanese struggling to afford basic needs.

Resolving the maritime border dispute would be mutually beneficial, enabling both nations to benefit from the offshore gas development; Israel could secure a degree of energy independence and Lebanon could ameliorate its dire economic crisis. While the discussions between Jerusalem and Beirut are a significant development amid amplified tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, it is uncertain whether an agreement between the two nations could facilitate regional stability. Hezbollah, for instance, has not yet responded to Lebanon’s engagement in the talks.

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