Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared on November 11, 2020, that responsibility for negotiations over sea border demarcation with Israel, like the land border, rests with the Lebanese state, headed by President Michel Aoun. Nasrallah stressed that it was not Hizbullah’s business to intervene in the matter. In doing so, Nasrallah clarified that Hizbullah does not oppose talks between Israel and Lebanon on marking the maritime economic border that were going on in Nakura.1
The newspaper Al-Akhbar, which is close to Hizbullah, reported on November 24, 2020, that Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, invited President Aoun to talks in Europe to advance the currently stalled water boundary negotiations. “I am convinced,” Steinitz asserted, “that if we could meet face-to-face in a European country in order to have open, or secret, negotiations, we would have a good chance of resolving the maritime border dispute once and for all.”2
The al-Akhbar commentary emphasized that Lebanon had agreed to negotiate the maritime demarcation under U.S. pressure, which together with Israel thought that Lebanon’s economic distress would result in concessions by Lebanon and compliance with Israel’s demands. Moreover, Israel expected in vain that progress on marking the maritime border would open the door to a discussion on normalization between the two countries.3
Hizbullah warned President Michel Aoun, through Al Akhbar, and threatened that any responsiveness to an Israeli invitation would undermine relations between Hizbullah and the Lebanese president and his party, which is a political ally of Hizbullah.
Hizbullah made it clear that the hope that Lebanon that would be flexible in its negotiations so that it could begin offshore drilling and shore up its collapsing economy is an illusion.
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1 Hassan Nasrallah speech on Shaheed Day, Al-Ahad, November 11, 2020.
3 Al Akhbar, November 24, 2020.