France hails ‘historic’ Israel-Lebanon maritime deal

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday said the “historic agreement” between Lebanon and Israel that unlocks offshore gas production was an “important step towards more peace” between the Mediterranean neighbors.

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Lebanese President Michel Aoun approved the US-brokered maritime border deal on Thursday, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said it would make conflict with Lebanon’s Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah less likely.

Macron congratulated leaders from both nations for their “efforts and their determination,” the Elysee Palace presidency said.

“This is undeniably an important step towards more peace for Israel, for Lebanon and all the countries and peoples of the region.

“It will also contribute to the prosperity of both countries.”

The agreement between the countries that have remained technically at war since Israel’s creation in 1948 has been applauded by world leaders including US President Joe Biden.

The written agreement “establishes a permanent and equitable resolution of their maritime dispute,” according to a copy seen by AFP.

It will go into force as soon as the US sends notice confirming it has received from Lebanon and Israel their separate approvals.

The two nations will then deposit maritime border coordinates with the United Nations.

Under the deal, Israel has full rights over the Karish gas field which is expected to start gas production within weeks.

Lebanon will have full rights to operate and explore the so-called Qana or Sidon reservoir, parts of which fall in Israel’s territorial waters.

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