Les regards sont tournés vers Amos Hochstein

All eyes are on Amos Hochstein

Will he come, right? Complete ambiguity surrounds the visit announced by the Presidency of the Republic and the House of Representatives visit to the American negotiator in the file of the Lebanese-Israeli maritime borders, Amos Hochstein, at an official invitation from Lebanon. This is a week after the arrival of a gas rig in the eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Israel, to extract gas and oil from the Karish field. Despite local assurances of the imminence of this visit, the senior American adviser on global energy security may stipulate his arrival on Sunday or Monday, provided that the Lebanese authorities deliver a unified official response to the solution he presented to them. . While the country officially claims a maritime area of ​​860 square kilometers defined by Line 23 with the United Nations, on the basis of Decree 6433/2011, its negotiators, after a few rounds of indirect talks with the Israelis under the auspices of US and UN mediation, offered a maximum approach of 1,430 km. Additional square, bounded by line 29. The latter was never made official. On the other hand, it is at the center of political controversies. The US mediator’s proposal draws a zigzag border line that partially follows Line 23 and deviates halfway to the Hof Line to give Israel the entire Karish field, as well as part of Block 8. On the other hand, much of the alleged Qana hydrocarbon field is credited to Lebanon, and only A small part of it goes to Israel.

Conditional visit?

So everyone is waiting for Mr. Hochstein. And the newspaper “L’Orient-Le Jour” learned from a source familiar with the matter that “the Lebanese visit will actually take place on the specified dates.” But according to political columnist Mounir Rabie, the visit of the American negotiator to Lebanon will take place during the next week, only if Lebanon sends him an official and consolidated written response to his proposal. In this context, President Michel Aoun and outgoing Prime Minister Najib Mikati are intensifying contacts to convene an extraordinary cabinet as soon as possible, as soon as the Prime Minister returns from Jordan.

In an attempt to calm the fanatical demands on the Lebanese borders, Mr. Mikati confirmed that a meeting will be held with President Aoun before the end of the week, to study the measures to be taken. He pointed out that line 29 is a line of negotiation, and that he himself “is not ready to embark on the slightest impromptu action likely to endanger Lebanon.” The Head of State also promised to continue his efforts to achieve positive results. “We will ask Mr. Hochstein to resume his efforts to revitalize the indirect negotiations,” he stressed in a tweet from the presidency on Twitter. Because Beirut expects to be “able to invest in its oil and gas resources.”

A few hours ago, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, raised his voice. And he indicated in a tweet on Twitter that “Israel cannot exploit the Karish gas field if Lebanon cannot also exploit the gas from the Qana field.” A position not far from the extreme position that Line 29 claims with the aim of giving Lebanon the entire Qana field and Israel the entire Karish field.

The case of Nawaf Mousavi

Another recent development: Hezbollah ordered former MP Nawaf Mousavi to follow up on the maritime border file. This announcement is evidence that the Shiite party, which has always positioned itself behind the state in this highly strategic file, is now presenting itself as a primary partner, given Mr. Mousavi’s previous experience in international relations. “It is natural for Hezbollah to appoint someone from its camp to follow up on the matter,” said Nicholas Blandford, a Beirut-based researcher at the Atlantic Council. A political analyst close to the pro-Iranian party, Qassem Kassir, comments that “the appointment of Nawaf Mousavi is an indication that Hezbollah has decided to deal seriously with the issue in light of the dispute over the issue.” Mr. Mousavi has long been in charge of international relations within Hezbollah. He adds that he has long experience in this field.

The same reading of the analyst Faisal Abdul Sater, who is also close to the Shiite party. He points out that “this appointment shows Hezbollah’s special interest in marine hydrocarbon wealth, in the pending file between Lebanon and the Israeli enemy, in the context of great ambiguity and Lebanese hesitation.” Because the role of the official will not be limited to “knowing the file in depth, but conducting consultations with the various parties, knowing that it is crucial for the future of the country.”

The appointment of Mr. Moussawi is also an expression of Hezbollah’s rehabilitation of the leader, a time which was rejected to embarrass the party: in February 2019, in controversial statements, he confirmed that assassinated former president Bashir Gemayel had been elected in 1982 “thanks to Israeli tanks,” which It angered the Kataeb and the Lebanese Forces. At the end of the incident, Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc apologized. A few months later, the deputy got involved in an armed fight at a police station in Damour to help his daughter in a dispute with her ex-husband. After being prosecuted by the military court and accused of shooting his ex-husband, he reinstated his duties as deputy on July 18, 2019.

Will he come, right? Complete ambiguity surrounds the visit announced by the Presidency of the Republic and the House of Representatives visit to the American negotiator in the file of the Lebanese-Israeli maritime borders, Amos Hochstein, at an official invitation from Lebanon. And this is a week after the arrival of a platform in the eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Israel …

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