Lebanon, Israel set for talks over the maritime border

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Lebanon and Israel are to start indirect talks over their disputed maritime border, with US officials mediating the talks that each side insists are purely technical and not a symbol of any normalisation of ties.

The talks are going to be held at the headquarters of UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL within the Lebanese border town of Naqoura from Wednesday. it’s unclear how long they’re going to continue for.

The development comes against the backdrop of Lebanon’s spiralling depression, the worst in its modern history, and following a wave folks sanctions that recently included two influential former cabinet ministers allied with the armed Hezbollah group.

Israel, the US, also as another Western and Arab countries consider the Iran-allied Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

Israel has said that there’ll be “direct negotiations”, something Lebanese officials have denied. it’s expected the 2 delegations are going to be sitting within the same hall.

Israel has sent a six-member team, including the director-general of its energy ministry, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy adviser, and therefore the head of the army’s strategic division.

Lebanon’s four-member delegation comprises two army officers, a Lebanese oil official, and a maritime border law expert.

Hezbollah and its ally Amal have criticised the delegation which will represent Lebanon at the talks.

A statement from Lebanon’s two main Shia parties, coming just hours before the meeting was thanks to starting, involved reform of the negotiating team which they said must include only military officials, with no civilians or politicians.

On Monday, the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar daily called the talks “a moment of unprecedented political weakness for Lebanon” and argued that Israel was the important “beneficiary”.

The talks come weeks after Bahrain and therefore the United Arab Emirates became the primary Arab nations to determine relations with Israel since Egypt did so in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

Israel and Lebanon haven’t any diplomatic relations and are technical during a state of war.

They each claim about 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean as being within their own exclusive economic zones.

Lebanon’s outgoing secretary of state Charbel Wehbi said Lebanese negotiators are going to be “more fierce than they expect because we’ve nothing to lose”.

He added that if Lebanon’s economy collapses, “there is not any interest in making concessions”.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, the highest American diplomat for the center East, arrived in Lebanon on Tuesday afternoon to attend the opening session of the talks.

Schenker is going to be joined by American Ambassador John Desrocher, who will function as the US mediator for these negotiations.

Source: aljazeera

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