Hezbollah has threatened war over the conflict on the sea border between Lebanon and Israel

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As the US, Israeli and Lebanese governments hope to finally reach an agreement over the disputed Israel-Lebanon sea border, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has again threatened war if Lebanon’s “rights” in the Mediterranean are not respected.

Why it matters: The dispute centers on a potentially gas-rich, 330-square-mile area of ​​the Mediterranean Sea off Israel and Lebanon. Revenues from future natural gas production there could reach billions of dollars.

  • A major gas project, the Karish oil field, is due to come online this fall and is part of Israel’s plans to become a major gas supplier to Europe.
  • Israel says Karish is south of the disputed area, but Nasrallah warned that Hezbollah will not allow Israel to produce gas there unless Lebanon‘s rights are respected. Two weeks ago, the Israeli military shot down three Hezbollah drones en route to the Karish field.
  • “Maybe we go to war, maybe not. We don’t want to open a new front, we just want our rights. If anyone in Lebanon thinks surrender is the solution, we find that unacceptable,” Nasrallah said yesterday.

Game Status: US Energy Ambassador Amos Hochstein is mediating between the Israeli and Lebanese governments, which are technically at war and are yet to make a breakthrough on the issue after years of stop-start diplomacy.

  • Israeli interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid told Hochstein during a brief conversation on the sidelines of his bilateral meeting with President Biden last week that he wanted to reach an agreement as soon as possible, two Israeli officials tell me.
  • Hochstein told Lapid and the other Israeli officials he met while accompanying Biden on the trip that he was optimistic about the chances of an agreement in the near future. The US envoy has told Israeli and Lebanese officials he wants an agreement by September, but that seems unlikely.
  • Meanwhile, Nasrallah said Lebanon had agreed to major concessions but Hochstein had not provided a clear response from Israel. “I hope we don’t have to fire a bullet or rocket before the enemy retreats,” Nasrallah said during a religious gathering.

What you say: Lapid said on Tuesday that Lebanon could also benefit from developing the natural gas deposits in its economic waters, “but it will happen through negotiations, which we need to complete as soon as possible.”

  • Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Monday told a US delegation of think-tank experts that he wanted to reach an agreement on the maritime border while keeping the situation on the border with Israel stable.
  • After Biden left Israel last Friday, the State Department issued a statement pledging to facilitate negotiations between Lebanon and Israel to reach an agreement on the maritime border.

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