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MARITIME BORDER

Hezbollah MP says delineation of the maritime border is state’s responsibility


Hezbollah MP says delineation of the maritime border is state’s responsibility

The leader of Hezbollah's parliamentary group Mohammad Raad. (Credit: Sarah Abdallah/L'Orient Today)

BEIRUT — The head of the parliamentary group of Hezbollah, Mohammad Raad, said Saturday that the Shiite party “is not concerned with the delineation of the maritime border” with Israel, which “is the responsibility of the state.” The comments represent a change of tone days after the same official assured that the pro-Iran party would not give up a single drop of territorial water to which Hezbollah says Lebanon is entitled.

“We are not concerned with the discussions on the delineation of the maritime border. We had said that this is the responsibility of the state,” the MP said at a ceremony in the Bekaa, warning against starting a broader dialogue with Israel. “The American envoy, Amos Hochstein, is trying to mediate this situation through signs of normalization [of relations] that it may imply,” he said.

On Monday, Raad announced in no uncertain terms that Lebanon will not give up a single drop of water to which it is entitled and that otherwise the potential offshore gas deposits in the territory will remain buried where they are. His words came after President Michel Aoun, revised Lebanon’s claims to the border line downwards, thus reversing a bidding war that he himself had fueled for several months. Aoun now claims only line 23, an official claim of Lebanon since 2011 that allows him to claim 860 square kilometers of the area disputed with Israel.

Negotiations, under the auspices of Washington and the United Nations, have been suspended since December 2020 when the president opted for maximum demands: line 29, which would give him an additional 1,430 square kilometers. However, he subsequently refused to sign the amendment of Decree 6433 at the UN, a condition sine qua non for formalizing this request. On Wednesday, Aoun discussed this thorny issue with US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea.

Speaking about the May 15 legislative elections, Raad said Hezbollah “does not want to change anything in its political compromise.”

“We are not asking to change or touch our constitution, nor our charter, and are not ready to allow anyone to touch any article if there is no national agreement on it,” he assured.

Hezbollah castigates the United States

Returning to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Raad slammed, once again, the official position of Lebanon and denounced “the fact that the fate of the country is determined following a phone call from the US Embassy in Lebanon. He also criticized the fact that those who “advocate neutrality and the policy of distancing have not reacted to the position of the government.”

Lebanon has officially condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and voted in favor of a resolution isolating Moscow at the UN General Assembly. While Aoun initially seemed to distance himself from the statement of Foreign Ministry’s position, he finally seems to have aligned himself with it by pleading Friday for a peaceful settlement of the military conflict in Ukraine, ensuring that “Lebanon is against any war.”

This position was also criticized by another Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah, who said that “Lebanon’s vote at the UN was made under American pressure” and that “the government was supposed to take into account the true interest of Lebanon.”

Fadlallah also criticized the visit of a US Treasury delegation to Beirut earlier this week, which stressed the importance of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund in pursuing the country’s economic and financial recovery. The US Treasury also insisted on the protection of depositors and the conduct of investigations to detect possible abuses within the banking sector. Fadlallah said, in this context, that “the US administration seeks to restructure the banking system, not to restore confidence in the banks … but to closely monitor the monetary operations.”

This article was originally published in French in L’Orient-Le Jour.


BEIRUT — The head of the parliamentary group of Hezbollah, Mohammad Raad, said Saturday that the Shiite party “is not concerned with the delineation of the maritime border” with Israel, which “is the responsibility of the state.” The comments represent a change of tone days after the same official assured that the pro-Iran party would not give up a single drop of territorial water to...