Lines of Understanding

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Israel and Lebanon reached an agreement on a maritime border between the two nations Tuesday, a historic deal that will allow for the exploration of natural gas and reduce the threat of a regional war, Axios reported.

The draft agreement follows years of US-mediated talks over the potentially gas-rich, 330-square-mile disputed area of the Mediterranean Sea estimated to be worth billions of dollars.

Under the pact, the two countries will agree on a maritime border between them for the first time and share royalties from an offshore gas field that straddles the boundary, Reuters added.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the agreement “meets all the security and economic principles laid out by Israel,” while Lebanese President Michel Aoun noted that the terms of the US proposal were satisfactory. Meanwhile, other Lebanese government officials confirmed that Iran-backed Hezbollah has also endorsed the deal.

The need for an agreement has become pressing as the Karish rig, a major Israeli gas project located south of the disputed area, is set to go online.

Analysts believe that a gas find would be beneficial for cash-strapped Lebanon and help officials fix the country’s long-standing failure to produce adequate electricity supplies for its population.

The proposal comes as Israel prepares for its Nov. 1 elections to the Knesset. Lapid intends to seek approval for the deal from his cabinet Wednesday.

Still, a number of right-wing Israeli groups appealed to the country’s supreme court against the agreement. Critics of the deal believe that it could surrender Israeli maritime rights and benefit Hezbollah. Israel is still technically at war with Lebanon.

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