The Israeli government approves the agreement with Lebanon on its maritime border and leaves it in the hands of the Parliament

Opposition deputies seek to block plenum to delay parliamentary action

The Israeli government on Wednesday approved the historic agreement reached on Tuesday with the Lebanese authorities to demarcate their common maritime border, so the text now passes to Parliament, which will debate its contents.

Thus, the Israeli Cabinet has paved the way for the final approval of the document, although the Interior Minister, Ayelet Shaked, has abstained, as reported by the newspaper ‘Haaretz’.

“The government overwhelmingly approved the provisions of the agreement with Lebanon and Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s proposal to submit the agreement to the Knesset,” the government said in a statement.

The document is scheduled to be submitted to Parliament this afternoon, which will open a two-week period in which MPs can debate its possible approval and submit amendments. It will then go to the Government, which will have to give the final ‘yes’.

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However, MP Simcha Rothman has asked the Speaker of Parliament, Mickey Levy, to cancel the opening of this afternoon’s plenary session in order to delay the debate on the pact with Lebanon as long as possible.

Rothman has thus argued that convening the plenum with only one day’s notice is “illegal” and has the Knesset cannot be convened during its recess period without the approval of the parliamentary committee in charge of it. However, the House anticipates a delay of only half an hour, as reported by a spokesman.

While the details have not been fully transcended, diplomats familiar with the matter have stated that the pact recognizes the border set with buoys by Israel, allowing Lebanon to enjoy exploitation of the area north of Line 23, including the Qana field. Israel would retain control of Karish and has said it could start work in the area, amid threats to do so by the Lebanese Shiite militia-party Hezbollah.

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Israel and Lebanon — which are technically at war and do not maintain diplomatic relations — began a process of indirect talks in October 2020 that are mediated by the United States and held under United Nations auspices at the international body’s headquarters in the Lebanese city of Naqura.

The negotiations revolve around an area of 860 square kilometers which, according to both countries, lie in their respective Exclusive Economic Zones, an issue of particular importance following the discovery of gas reserves in this area which both Israel and Lebanon hope to exploit.

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