The agreement on the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon entered a deep freeze following Israel’s refusal to accept the amendments Lebanon demands to be included in the agreement.
It will probably no longer be completed before the Knesset elections and Israel is preparing for an escalation in the north for fear that Hezbollah will make military provocations against Israel’s gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea or on Lebanon’s land border with Israel in order to further bend Israel.
The security cabinet that discussed the matter last night authorized Prime Minister Lapid, Defense Minister Gantz and alternate Prime Minister Bennett to make decisions, without the need for a cabinet meeting in the event of an escalation in the north, including landing a pre-emptive strike on Hezbollah to thwart attacks from it.
The door to negotiations is still open and the American mediator Amos Hochstein is working diligently to save the agreement.
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah remains silent and uses the Lebanese government behind the scenes to try and blackmail Israel into further concessions. Israeli intelligence is having trouble deciphering what is going on in Nasrallah’s mind, but the Israeli government’s submission to his threats so far is interpreted by him as a major weakness and that more juice can be extracted from the Israeli lemon.
The assessment in Israel is that Hezbollah is not interested in an all-out war against Lebanon in view of the country’s difficult economic situation and to maintain its position and also because it remembers the mistake it made in 2006 that led to the Second Lebanon War, but it may well initiate a local escalation of several days of fighting to achieve its goals and present himself as someone who “went all the way” with Israel in order to obtain an improved agreement with Israel and receive the credit for it.
Nasrallah’s new equation is still in effect
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah established a new equation last July to deal with the negotiations on the demarcation of the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon And this equation presented in his public speech is still valid for him and is coordinated with Iran.
Nasrallah has created a regional threat and is threatening to damage all of Israel’s gas and oil rigs throughout the Mediterranean if Lebanon’s rights are not respected in the coming weeks.
Nasrallah has realized that the weak point of the USA and Israel is their urgent need for gas and oil, which gives Lebanon and Hezbollah the ability to torpedo this.
For him, Lebanon has the right to take every step to pressure Israel for the benefit of negotiations, and if permission is given to commercial companies to extract oil and gas from the Mediterranean Sea, Hezbollah will turn the tables on the entire world””.
Hassan Nasrallah’s new equation is:
“karish” rig and what comes after “karish” and what comes beyond “Karish”.
He is threatening to launch armed drones and rockets at the ‘Karish’ gas rig and also at targets much further away from it as he alludes to all of Israel’s natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea.
The agreement with Lebanon is in danger in view of the approaching Knesset elections in Israel and the fact that Lebanese President Michel Aoun will end his term at the end of the month and in the absence of a replacement, this could lead to an escalation.
Hezbollah is betting on Israeli pressure to start producing gas from the “Karish” field as soon as possible and that this pressure from the political echelon plus the American pressure will subdue the Israel once again to accept the amendments that Lebanon demands.
Hezbollah rejects the Israeli military threats and emphasizes that Hassan Nasrallah will keep his word and that Israel will only lose if it postpones the agreement until after a new president is elected in Lebanon and a new government is established, Hezbollah will not change its strategy.
Hezbollah warns that Israel is playing with fire, as far as it is concerned, Israel’s refusal of the amendments demanded by Lebanon is not the end of the diplomatic game because Israel is very interested in the agreement that has been reached.
Therefore, Hezbollah will give Israel enough time to withdraw before taking action military.
As far as Hezbollah is concerned, this is a “show of strength and muscle” by Yair Lapid because of Netanyahu’s accusations that he surrendered to the threats of Hassan Nasrallah, but in the end, Yair Lapid will surrender once more and sign the agreement.