Lebanon's president announced that the first round of negotiations with Israel on border demarcation, to be held on Wednesday at the UN headquarters in the southern Naqoura city, will be "technical" and specific to maritime borders.
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Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Amal movements have expressed their opposition to the makeup of the delegation tasked with negotiating the country’s southern border demarcation with Israel, calling for changes to the team ahead of the first round of talks.
The four-member team, headed by Deputy Chief of Staff of the Lebanese Army for Operations Brigadier General Pilot Bassam Yassin, was named by the presidency’s media office earlier this week.
The discussions will take place under the auspices of the UN, he stressed, adding that “the US presence in the meetings serves as a facilitating mediator for the process.”
“The negotiations are technical and talks should be limited to this particular issue, maritime borders, only,” Aoun noted.
The remarks came a few days after Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri announced a framework agreement for talks with Israel on demarcating the maritime and land borders, saying the demarcation will help Lebanon economically.
However, Hezbollah and Amal released a joint statement ahead of the talks on Wednesday, calling for an immediate reform of the delegation based on Berri’s framework pertaining to the border demarcation to the April 1996 ceasefire understanding with Israel and UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
They said the inclusion of civilian figures in the Lebanese team contradicts the framework agreement, which only allows military officers to attend the periodic meetings on border demarcation.
Lebanon is locked in a conflict with Israel over an area in the Mediterranean Sea spanning about 860 square kilometers (some 332 square miles), known as Zone No. 9, which is rich in oil and gas.
In 2016, Beirut announced launch of the first round of licenses for exploration.
The maritime borders between Lebanon and Israel have not seen any military conflicts, unlike the land borders.