Former Ambassador David Friedman says deal went from 60-40 in past years’ negotiations to 100-0 in Lebanon’s favor.
By: Batya Jerenberg
Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) accused the White House Sunday 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,” he 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.
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. “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.”
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 Hizballah-controlled order in Lebanon.”
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, “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.”
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.”
The Opposition has slammed it 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.
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.”