Israel-Lebanon Negotiations over Offshore Gas Fields Are Bound to Fail

June 20 2022

Last week, the U.S. envoy for energy affairs Amos Hochstein traveled to Beirut to negotiate the delineation of the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon. A successful agreement would, in principle, allow both nations to exploit their respective offshore natural-gas reserves. Eran Lerman explains why these efforts are unlikely to succeed, especially given Lebanon’s habit of increasing its demands whenever a compromise is in sight:

Despite its recent electoral setback, Hizballah and its allies still have a firm grip on most of the levers of power in the country.

Negotiations went nowhere last year after Lebanon inexplicably abandoned its previous claim based on “Line 23” . . . and demanded to expand its claim southwards to “Line 29.” The recurrent pattern of asking for more and more has made a mockery of the ongoing attempt to resolve the problem diplomatically. . . . Israel [was willing to accept Line 23 in 2011, and] thus consented to a division of the disputed area, most of which was offered to Lebanon.

In October 2020, . . . a Lebanese team led by a military officer met with an Israeli delegation led by the director of the Ministry of Energy. A U.S. representative attended the meeting. As it turned out, the Lebanese delegation did not talk about the resolution of the previous dispute but staked out a series of new unsubstantiated claims, unrelated to anything but the apparent expectation that they could once again blackmail Israel and the United States into further concessions.

Choosing conflict will not deter the corporations that already have an established presence in Israel. It will, however, frighten away all who may still consider the prospect of investing in Lebanon’s gas fields.

As for Hizballah, its leader Hassan Nasrallah declared in May that he is suspicious of any negotiations with the U.S., and strongly opposes any dealings “with Hochstein, Frankenstein, or any other Stein.” His meaning is not hard to discern.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Hizballah, Israeli gas, Lebanon, Natural Gas, U.S. Foreign policy

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror