US President Joe Biden extended his congratulations on Thursday to Israel and Lebanon for officializing an agreement to establish a permanent maritime boundary, according to a release.
“I am proud to congratulate Israel and Lebanon on officially concluding their agreement to resolve their long-standing maritime boundary dispute,” Biden said in a release.
Both countries took the final steps to bring the agreement into force on Thursday and submitted the final paperwork to the United Nations in the presence of the US.
Biden added that the US would “continue to serve as a facilitator” as Israel and Lebanon implemented the agreement.
US mediator Amos Hochstein said on Thursday that the agreement between Israel and Lebanon will benefit the entire region.
“Today is really the beginning, not the end. Today is the beginning of what happens next, of how there can be more deepening cooperation, deepening economic prosperity, and if there is a prosperous Lebanon north of the border of Israel, that is the win for everyone. So clearly this is not just a great day for Israel and its security, and for Lebanon – it’s for the broader region in the Middle East, and, particularly, the Eastern Mediterranean,” Hochstein told a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
Hochstein noted that the United States was happy to play its role in achieving the agreement and supporting Israel’s security, stability, and economic prosperity.
The negotiations on the demarcation of land and maritime borders between Lebanon and Israel had been taking place in the Lebanese town of Naqoura since 1996 on the basis of the memorandum of understanding under the UN auspices and the US mediation. In June 2022, Israel urged the Lebanese authorities to speed up the talks. It called the Karish gas field located in the Eastern Mediterranean its strategic asset and assured Lebanon of the absence of plans to produce gas in the disputed territory.
On October 11, the two countries agreed on the US-mediated draft agreement on the demarcation of a maritime border, thus ending the decades-old dispute. The deal will open the way for offshore oil and gas exploration, and prevent a potential conflict between Lebanon and Israel.