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US mediator in the maritime border negotiations Amos Hochstein seemed to tell the Lebanese to aim lower in an interview with Alhurra TV channel on Thursday. Speaking about Line 29, which many in Lebanon are demanding become the official Lebanese position in the negotiations, Hochstein, who was born in Israel, said, “sometimes when you are the most right, you also have nothing to show for it,” advising Lebanese to focus on “what will work” in negotiations with the Israeli state, rather than on making “the most legal case” for sovereign economic rights. “As much energy should be placed into thinking, what is a creative idea that we can all compromise around, that both sides will feel, ‘I may not have gotten everything I want, but I got a lot more than what I have right now’? Which, really, in the case of Lebanon right now, is nothing.” The interview came after two days of meetings with Lebanon’s top political leaders. Earlier in the day the Lebanese presidency Twitter account said President Michel Aoun had responded to a proposal Hochstein presented a few months ago, but no explanation was given about the contents of the proposal or the contents of the response. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri reportedly told Hochstein that Israel’s activity in the Karish gas field, where a floating platform arrived 10 days ago, “disrupts peace in the region.” Hochstein didn’t tell media much about what ideas the Lebanese leaders presented — Gebran Bassil, for example, has recently been talking about a Karish for Qana equation — but Hochstein said that their positions “move the negotiations forward” and that he will share them with the Israeli side.
The state-owned Housing Bank will resume lending on June 20 after a three-year hiatus. The Housing Bank offers credit to low-income Lebanese to help them buy homes, renovate their existing homes, and, for the first time, install solar power systems. Interest rates across all three categories will be capped at 4.99 percent. The new round of lending will be funded by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development in Kuwait and Banque du Liban.
A new study from researchers at the American University of Beirut finds a majority of households whose members work in any of seven economic sectors receive less than $170 per month. The survey of 931 households — distributed across the sectors of agriculture, construction, education, food and beverage, health care, manufacturing and retail — was administered to households during the second half of March 2022. The survey also revealed far fewer households have access to fresh dollars than is commonly supposed in media coverage of remittances and dollarization. Whether from remittances, fresh dollar savings or the salaries of anyone in the household, fewer than 20 percent of households with a member working in any of the seven sectors have any access to fresh dollars. Households with a member who works in the health care sector are an exception, where 27 percent have access to fresh dollars.
Two defeated parliamentary candidates filed appeals to the Constitutional Council yesterday, challenging their electoral losses. The moves came two days before the June 16 deadline for filing such appeals. Elie Charbachi (Beirut I) and Faisal Karami (North II) filed cases yesterday. Another defeated candidate, who lost by less than 100 votes and had voting ballots disqualified from being counted, Jad Ghosn (Mount Lebanon II), told L’Orient Today he will be filing an appeal to the court today. Several other politicians are expected to file cases today and tomorrow.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read article from yesterday: “Ramy Finge: the quiet workhorse of Tripoli.”