BEIRUT — Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah insisted Thursday that the official signing of the maritime border agreement doesn't imply a normalization of relations between Lebanon and Israel.
However, he announced that his party will end its "exceptional" military mobilization and praised a "great victory" for Lebanon during a televised speech.
Earlier Thursday, Lebanon signed the maritime border agreement with Israel. The deal was finalized two weeks ago after monthslong indirect negotiations mediated by the American envoy Amos Hochstein, who also signed the document.
The deal "is not an international agreement and does not mean Lebanon recognized Israel [as a state] or normalized with Israel," Nasrallah said in his speech. He reminded the audience that the negotiations were indirect and that Israel was not given "any security reassurances."
Nevertheless, "all exceptional measures and mobilizations taken by the resistance will end. Mission accomplished," Nasrallah added.
On June 5, Israel deployed a floating production, storage and offloading vessel to the disputed Karish offshore gas field. Hezbollah later retaliated by sending three unarmed drones toward the offshore field, which were shot down by Israeli forces.
At the time, Nasrallah said Hezbollah was “militarily and financially capable of preventing [Israel] from extracting [gas] from the disputed Karish field and all [Israel’s] measures will not be capable of protecting its floating platform.”
In Thursday's speech, Nasrallah's tone had changed significantly.
"We consider that, from the beginning to the end, [the deal] is a great victory for Lebanon— the state, its people and the resistance," he said. "Lebanon has taken an important step ... [It is] correct to say that we have become an oil and gas state."
This last statement was in reference to a statement made by Lebanese President Michel Aoun who, on Oct. 13, just days after the deal was finalized, announced that "Lebanon has become an oil state. What was a dream yesterday is today a reality."
Earlier in the day Thursday, Israeli Minister Yair Lapid claimed the deal signifies Lebanon's de-facto "recognition" of Israel.
"This is a political achievement. It is not every day that an enemy state recognizes the State of Israel, in a written agreement, in front of the entire international community," Lapid said.
Nasrallah said he will talk extensively on the maritime border matter in an upcoming speech on Saturday.