As Tensions Rise Between Lebanon & Israel Over Maritime Border & Gas Deal, IDF Placed on High Alert  - The Jewish Voice
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As Tensions Rise Between Lebanon & Israel Over Maritime Border & Gas Deal, IDF Placed on High Alert 

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As Tensions Rise Between Lebanon & Israel Over Maritime Border & Gas Deal, IDF Placed on High Alert

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Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has rejected proposed changes by the Lebanese government to a maritime border and gas extraction agreement, a senior Israeli political source said on Thursday, as was reported by

As such, Israel National News has reported that Israel’s defense establishment is gearing up for a possible conflict with Lebanon, after the maritime border talks between Jerusalem and Beirut floundered. Military personnel have been placed on high alert due to the increasing tensions in the region.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday held a situation assessment regarding Israeli defenses on the northern front together with the IDF Chief of the General Staff, MOD Director General and Head of the IDF Operations Directorate, as was reported by INN.

“In light of the developments in the maritime border negotiations with Lebanon, during the assessment, Minister Gantz instructed the defense establishment to prepare for any scenario in which tensions increase in the northern arena, including defensive and offensive readiness,” a defense ministry spokesperson said.

Escalating tensions were due to the fact that Lebanon demanded further changes to a draft agreement of a maritime border deal, which would formally delineate the boundaries of Israeli and Lebanese waters, including prized offshore gas fields, INN reported,

The Israel based web site also reported that last week, US envoy Amos Hochstein submitted a new draft of the agreement, including major concessions by Israel to Lebanon.

The draft was accepted by Jerusalem, which viewed the version as final.

Earlier this week, World Israel News reported that Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) accused the White House of pressuring Israel to give in almost totally to Lebanon on the parameters of the maritime boundaries between the two countries.

“I am deeply troubled that Biden Officials pressured our Israeli allies to hand over their territory to the Iran-controlled terrorist group Hezbollah,” Cruz tweeted. “Another topic for the next Republican Congress to investigate.”

Hezbollah is a formal partner in the Lebanese government, although it is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and other Western countries, as was reported by WIN.

The pro-Israel senator was reacting to the news, announced by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, that Jerusalem made major concessions to Hezbollah in maritime border talks with Lebanon.

Other American supporters of Israel concurred.

“We spent years trying to broker a deal between Israel and Lebanon on the disputed maritime gas fields,” former president Donald Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, tweeted Monday, as was reported by WIN. “Got very close with proposed splits of 55-60% for Lebanon and 45-40% for Israel. No one then imagined 100% to Lebanon and 0% to Israel. Would love to understand how we got here,” he said.

In a policy brief written late last month, Tony Badran, a Hezbollah and Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), wrote that “the Biden administration has made it its mission to throw whatever money and resources it can muster in order to prop up and stabilize the Hezballah-controlled order in Lebanon,” WIN reported.

In order to do so, the White House has “leveraged” Hezbollah’s threats to strike at Israel’s Karish gas field  “to impose a sense of urgency on Israel’s caretaker government to concede Lebanon’s demands and conclude the agreement without any escalation.”

“If a border agreement is finalized,” he added, that “the Biden administration will have set a terrible precedent by leveraging Hezbollah threats to secure Israeli concessions that enrich and empower a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.”

WIN also reported that Prime Minister Lapid hailed the agreement at Sunday’s cabinet meeting as one that “will weaken Lebanon’s reliance on Iran, will restrain Hezbollah and will bring regional stability.” According to Lapid, the deal “protects all of Israel’s security and diplomatic interests.”

Israel National News also reported that Lapid drew heavy criticism from the Israeli Right for agreeing to move the boundary farther to the south, yielding the entire Kana gas field to Lebanese control, with Israel entitled to some royalties for gas extracted from the portion of the field which lays in Israeli territory.

His opponents blasted the deal as a “surrender” to Hezbollah, and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that if the right-wing regains the government in the upcoming elections, it will not be obligated to honor the deal, as was reported by WIN.

Lapid wrote in reference to Netanyahu that he “hasn’t seen the agreement” and that “I understand it pains you that you didn’t succeed in achieving a deal [when you were premier], but that is no reason to join Nasrallah’s propaganda campaign.”

JNS reported on Tuesday that Lapid instructed Israeli negotiators who are in touch with United States mediator and special energy envoy Amos Hochstein to oppose the additions.

“Prime Minister Lapid made it clear that Israel will not compromise on its security and economic interests in any manner, even if that means that there will not be an agreement soon,” said the source, JNS reported.

“Israel will produce [gas] from the Karish platform as soon as this is possible. If Hezbollah or anyone else attempts to harm the Karish rig or threaten us—the negotiations over the maritime border will cease immediately, and Hassan Nasrallah will have to explain to Lebanon’s citizens why they don’t have a gas rig or an economic future,” the source added.

According to Israeli law, a national referendum must be held before the government gives up any of its sovereign territory. Netanyahu charged that Lapid is trying to get around this legal obstacle. In pushing back, Defense Minister Benny Gantz only said that the final draft will be “placed on the Knesset’s table and its main points will be presented to the public in an orderly and transparent manner.”


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