On Thursday, representatives of Lebanon and Israel kicked off the third session of technical discussions on the delimitation of the maritime borders in southern Lebanon, under the auspices of the United Nations and US mediation.
Negotiations began on October 14 at an opening session between two nations at war and aspiring to share oil resources in regional waters, after years of mediation by Washington as mediator of the talks.
The official National Information Agency said: “For the second consecutive day, the third round of negotiations on the delimitation of intermediate maritime borders” was launched as a result of tightened security measures taken by the Lebanese army in the border town of Naqoura.
The third session takes place the day after the meeting, which lasted nearly 4 hours, in the presence of representatives of the United Nations and the American diplomat John DeRoucher, who is responsible for facilitating the negotiations between the two parties.
The sessions will be held at the United Nations Border Post in Southern Lebanon (UNIFIL), away from the media and in the midst of extreme secrecy.
A Lebanese source accompanying the negotiations was content to mention his name AFP, saying Wednesday’s session “was positive … and each delegation made its proposals and demands to the other.”
Lebanon emphasizes the purely technical nature of the indirect talks aimed solely at demarcating sea borders, while Israel is talking about direct negotiations.
In 2018, Lebanon signed the first gas and oil exploration contract in two parts of its territorial waters, one of which is known as Block 9, on the part at issue with Israel. As a consequence, Lebanon has no possibility of operating in that territory unless borders are drawn.
According to the statement, the National Agency announced on Thursday that the Lebanese delegation had brought “convincing maps and documents showing the points of contention and the violation by the Israeli enemy of Lebanon’s right to annex parts of Block 9”.
Negotiations cover a sea area of around 860 square kilometers, based on a map sent to the United Nations in 2011, and Lebanon later recognized it based on incorrect estimates.
According to Laurie Haitien, director of the Institute of Natural Resource Management in the Middle East and North Africa, the Lebanese state begins negotiations “with the principle of demanding the maximum that can be obtained under the roof of international law and the law of the sea, ie it wants to exceed 860 square kilometers.”
Lebanon has always insisted in the past on linking the delimitation of maritime borders with land borders, but negotiations will focus solely on maritime borders, provided that, according to the United Nations, the demarcation of land borders will be discussed in a long-standing trilateral meeting.