Lebanon Denies Royalty Clause in Maritime Deal

By Zalman Ahnsaf

An Israel patrol boat seen off Rosh Hanikra, near the Lebanese coast. (Avi Mor/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM – The draft maritime agreement between Israel and Lebanon threatened to collapse on Monday evening as senior officials in Beirut denied they would share any profits in exchange for rights to disputed gas fields.

Deputy Parliament Speaker Elias Bou Saab, who has been involved in the maritime talks, told the Al-Mayadeen network on Monday that “Lebanon would not pay royalties to the Israeli enemy.”

The statement seemed to be in line with Lebanon’s president Michel Aoun who said “there will be no partnership with the Israeli side.”

Such statements blatantly contradict the presentation made by Israel Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday who said Lebanon would pay royalties to Israel in return for a concession on part of the contested region.

“Israel gets 100 percent of its security needs, 100% of Karish [gas field] and even some of the profits from the Lebanese reserve,” Lapid told the weekly cabinet meeting.

Both sides have stressed that the details have yet to be finalized and they are reviewing the draft, but until late Monday Lapid’s version of the deal had not been challenged, at least not openly.

“We have amendments to make to the document presented to us, [but] the atmosphere is very positive — Lebanon will not give up on any of its rights,” Saab said, adding that he expects Lebanon to send its “remarks” on the proposed deal in the next 48 hours.

Whether those “remarks” will include a repudiation of profit-sharing remains to be seen.

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