Lebanon: Two Issues Remain in Sea Boundary Talks with Israel
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri is said to have told lawmakers from his political bloc on Wednesday that two issues remained regarding talks with Israel over the demarcation of their sea boundary. “The first matter is related to the linking of the land and sea (borders),” MP Ali Bazzi said in televised comments. “The American position was talking about a verbal agreement, but everyone knows the stance of Speaker Berri on this issue – we don’t even trust Israel in a written agreement, let alone a verbal one,” he said. Additionally, Lebanon wants the United Nations to sponsor the talks rather than simply host them. Discussions between Tel Aviv and Beirut are expected to take place at the offices of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in Naqoura, a coastal town inside Lebanon just north of the border. US envoy David Satterfield said he made “substantial progress” in his talks with both countries. The Lebanese have said the meetings would deal with both the maritime and land border, although the Israelis are citing just the maritime line, which has been under dispute for two years since Beirut accepted bids in a tender to explore for natural gas and oil in two offshore areas.