Israel Shouldn’t Make Deals with Lebanon So Long as It Is Ruled by Hizballah

On Monday night, Amos Hochstein, the State Department’s senior advisor for energy security, unexpectedly arrived in Israel to further negotiations to fix the maritime boundary between Israel and Lebanon. A clear demarcation between the countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs)—that is, the offshore areas whose resources each has rights to—would allow both to make the most of the natural-gas fields off their coasts without spurring conflict. Amir Avivi argues that the time is not ripe for Beirut and Jerusalem to reach a deal:

While Israel has repeatedly expressed that it wants to reach an agreement on the maritime border between the countries, two truths need to be clearly stated: one, as long as a terrorist organization, [Hizballah], is behind the wheel on the Lebanese side, no agreements can be trusted or taken seriously by Israel or the international community; and two, if Israel does intend to enter negotiations in the current state of affairs, a transitional government in Israel cannot by any means make serious long-term decisions or concessions.

Lebanese civilians deserve to enjoy the benefits of their rich coast, just like Israel does. And regardless of the situation with Israel, Lebanon cannot even secure steps to explore natural gas off the undisputed areas of its EEZ. The power struggle between the Lebanese state and Hizballah as well as Lebanon’s inability to provide assurances for potential international investors hinder its capacity to make serious moves on this front. Without Lebanon’s ability to explore for gas, all that is left is for Hizballah to intimidate Israel and the international community over the Karish gas field located in the undisputed waters of the Israeli EEZ.

The Lebanese claim that the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon crosses this field. Experts and satellite photos determine this is not the case. It would be better for Lebanon to focus on exploring its own coast for gas rather than trying to reap the benefits of a successful Israeli exploration in Israeli territory.

Read more at Times of Israel

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

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security