October 07, 2022

Don’t Let Politics Kill the Lebanon-Israel Gas Deal

By Daniel Silverberg and Kirsten Fontenrose

Last month, we visited a Hezbollah tunnel on the Israeli-Lebanese border as part of a bipartisan group of Middle East experts. Dug almost a football field deep—with twisting staircases, advanced lighting, and oxygen cables—the tunnel’s sole purpose was to deliver Hezbollah terrorists from the Lebanese side of the border deep into Israeli territory. Equally menacing was the sight of active Hezbollah outposts less than 100 yards from the discovered tunnel, where the organization conducts intelligence and stores rockets ready to strike deep into Israel in the event of a conflict. The visit underscored that the Israeli-Lebanese border remains at a boil, and developments over the last few months have pushed the two sides closer to conflict than at any time since the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.

An Israeli-Lebanese border deal could help U.S. efforts to quell Iran, isolate Russia, and support European energy security.

Amid these tensions, Israel and Lebanon have also been locked in a bitter dispute over their maritime border, the focus of which is ownership rights and future production revenue from the offshore Karish and Kana natural gas fields. Given Lebanon’s instability and the constant Hezbollah threat, the U.S.-led negotiation to resolve this maritime dispute is a major unheralded development that, if successful, could be another diplomatic breakthrough for the Middle East. Israel’s military leadership issued an unequivocal statement supporting the deal, stating: “The agreement, in its current form, significantly contributes to Israel’s security interests. … There is a security and political necessity to reach an agreement in the near future and without delay.”

Read the full article from Foreign Policy.

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