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


Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation