Gantz Tells Israeli Military To Prepare for Lebanon Escalation After Maritime Border Talks Collapse
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday evening instructed the Israeli military to prepare for the possibility of an escalation in Israel’s north after Prime Minister Yair Lapid rejected changes proposed by Lebanon to the US-mediated Israel-Lebanon maritime border agreement that is taking shape. The drawing of borders between Israel’s and Lebanon’s exclusive economic zones will determine the fate of disputed natural gas fields that both sides wish to develop.
“Prime Minister Yair Lapid was briefed on the substantive changes Lebanon was seeking to make to the agreement and instructed his negotiating team to reject them,” a senior official said. “Lapid said Israel would not compromise on its economic and security interests, even if it meant no deal would be reached anytime soon,” he said.
With the border talks now in jeopardy, the chance of a violent Israeli-Hizbullah confrontation was considered “very high” according to US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker.