Direct Talks Called Off in Mediterranean Maritime Dispute
After more than a month of negotiations over their shared maritime border, Israel and Lebanon on Monday announced the next round of talks, scheduled for Wednesday, had been postponed. American mediators will now be tasked with contacting the two sides separately after several meetings were held in the Lebanese coastal town of Naqoura in which the Jerusalem and Beirut delegations spoke directly. Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz promised that direct talks will resume in a few weeks, as the two states attempt to resolve their dispute over control of gas-rich territories in the Eastern Mediterranean. The rare direct negotiations were achieved after years of American efforts to bring both sides to the table, and despite opposition by Lebanon’s powerful Hizbullah group, which is designated a terror organization by Israel, the US and the European Union. Still, despite initial optimism, no breakthrough has been reported, with Israel accusing Lebanon of presenting nonstarter maps and contradicting demands.