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

October 24, 2022 | Oded Granot
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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.

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