Is the Natural-Gas Deal with Lebanon Good for Israel?

Earlier this month, Israel and Lebanon concluded a U.S.-brokered deal to divide up the natural resources in their respective coastal waters. The two parties agreed upon a provisional maritime border that would place all of the Karish offshore gas field in Israeli waters, while placing the bulk of the so-far-unproven Qana field in Lebanese waters. Within the Jewish state, there remains ongoing debate over the agreement’s merits, much of which has become entangled with the upcoming election. Oded Granot addresses some of the criticisms:

The truth of the matter—and Lebanon will concede as much—is that this is a worthy agreement that serves both sides. Those who say that the ten-year dispute could have ended with a better deal [for Israel] are just selling you a lie. . . . The deal, put simply, prevents a conflagration with Hizballah that would have erupted once Israel would begin extracting gas from Karish.

This is not a historic deal and not the first step toward normalization. Lebanese officials have insisted on calling it an arrangement of understanding and have vowed to sign it separately and without meeting Israeli officials at the border crossing. . . . Neither does the deal significantly prevent Israel from getting its fair share of the revenue from the gas deal and provides security for both countries.

There is also an added plus: successful U.S. mediation. The guarantees the Biden administration provided both sides, however toothless, underscore the renewed U.S. presence in the Middle East after it had been long been neglected and handed to Vladimir Putin.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Lebanon, Natural Gas, US-Israel relations


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security