BEIRUT — Deputy Parliament Speaker Elias Bou Saab (Free Patriotic Movement/Metn) said on Tuesday that an expected visit this week by US mediator Amos Hochstein would “not bring a definitive solution” to Lebanon’s maritime border dispute with Israeli authorities, but that it would be “another positive step towards one.”
Speaking after a meeting with President Michel Aoun in Baabda, Bou Saab added that September would be a “decisive month” in border demarcation negotiations.
“I informed the president of the latest contacts made with US mediator Hochstein, who will visit Lebanon at the end of this week,” Bou Saab said in a statement after the meeting. “Things are going in the right direction and we should remain hopeful that this file will end soon.”
Bou Saab added that the ongoing communications with Hochstein will “intensify” in September.
“The file is not easy and it is not just a matter of demarcation of a line. There are many complications but they are being loosened one after the other and for that reason, we are saying that things are on the right path.”
The deputy parliament speaker added that Lebanon has “many alternative options” if Israeli authorities “don’t want to agree to a solution,” without specifying what those options might entail. “This presidency like us is keen to secure Lebanon’s rights,” he said.
Bou Saab denied that Lebanese authorities had been informed of any request by the Israeli to ensure against possible attacks by Hezbollah.
For his part, president Aoun said Tuesday that France-based oil and gas company TotalEnergies could help Lebanon solve maritime demarcation issues with Israel, according to a post from the presidency’s office on Twitter. Aoun would make “calls to help in this regard, communications will increase this month,” the office added.
Last Wednesday, Washington asserted that a “lasting compromise is possible” and that the issue is a “key priority” of US President Joe Biden's administration.
Tuesday’s meeting between Aoun and Bou Saab comes weeks after Israel deployed a floating production ship to the Karish gas field on June 5. The field is located in the disputed waters between Lebanon and Israel, causing tensions between the two countries to flare. The incident was followed by a resumption of the indirect maritime border negotiations between the two sides after they had been suspended for months.