Lebanese President Michel Aoun tweeted on Monday that Lebanon will adopt a position on a US plan to demarcate a controversial maritime border with Israel following meetings with the country’s top three officials.
On Monday afternoon, Aoun will meet with Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri to examine a proposal made by Amos Hochstein, the US diplomat. He has mediated indirect negotiations over the last year.
“The attitude of Lebanon towards Hochstein’s proposal will be determined in collaboration with the heads of parliament and administration. Aoun stated that there would be no relationship with the Israeli side.
Hochstein made a fresh proposal to Lebanon this week that would pave the way for offshore energy development to alleviate one source of contention between the adversarial nations and encourage them to reach a compromise. The specifics of the 10-page document have been kept secret, but authorities in Lebanon are optimistic. Even Hezbollah, sponsored by Iran, regarded the proposal’s filing as “a very significant step” on Saturday, while its friend Berri praised it as “good.”
The principal Lebanese negotiator, Deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab, informed legislators Monday that Lebanon will offer “amendments” to the most recent text.
According to Bou Saab, the devil is in the details. The most recent draft proposes an arrangement wherein a business operating under a Lebanese license would produce gas in the disputed Qana prospect, with Israel getting a revenue share.
Lebanese officials have openly stated that TotalEnergies SE may play a role. A senior Israeli official met with firm executives in Paris on Monday, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
On Monday, the Israeli energy ministry acknowledged that its director-general, Lior Schillat, who also leads the Israeli negotiation team, was in Paris for meetings.
The company, TotalEnergies, declined to respond. Israel has stated that its legal experts examine the text before its approval. According to Israeli media, the cabinet will convene on Thursday to endorse the agreement, although no official meeting has been arranged.