Benjamin Netanyahu and the maritime border agreement with Lebanon

One of the questions preoccupying the Arab world is whether Prime Minister elect Netanyahu will implement the maritime border agreement with Lebanon. In Hezbollah they are sure that Netanyahu will not dare to violate the agreement, in Jerusalem inforned sources estimate that Netanyahu will act carefully and find the right way to evade the implementation of the agreement as he did with the Oslo agreement.

The Arab world is following with interest the talks to form a new government in Israel led by Benjamin Netanyahu after his victory in the Knesset elections.

One of the questions that intrigues it is whether Benjamin Netanyahu will cancel or sabotage the implementation of the agreement reached by mediator Amos Hochstein and prevent Lebanon from producing natural gas from its gas fields.

As I recall, Netanyahu said during the election campaign that the agreement was “a surrender to Hezbollah” and that he would cancel it if he returned to power.

From a legal point of view, the body that approved the agreement, namely the Israeli government, can re-discuss it and cancel it, the agreement was also not submitted for approval by the Knesset.

Netanyahu has a majority in the new government and can theoretically pass such a decision.

The Lapid government approved the agreement on the grounds that the heads of the security establishment trusted it and out of a desire to avoid a military confrontation with Hezbollah, will Netanyahu act contrary to the position of the Israeli security establishment and risk a war against Hezbollah?

Will he violate an agreement that the American administration is interested in implementing?

The assessment of senior political figures in Jerusalem is that the elected prime minister will study the clauses of the agreement carefully and find out what the position of the heads of the security establishment really was, only after that he will formulate his steps on the issue.

In any case, no dramatic move is expected to happen in the coming months, Israel is busy curbing the wave of terrorism in the West Bank, about half of the IDF’s military force is tied up in this task, the Iranian nuclear threat has not been removed and it is possible that after the congressional elections, President Biden will renew the negotiations with Iran on the nuclear agreement And the Hezbollah organization continues to equip itself with advanced weapons that reach it from Iran through Syria.

A senior political official estimates that Netanyahu will act very carefully and that he is not looking for military adventures.

Security sources estimate that Hezbollah can disable, with its precision missiles, the” Karish” gas rig that has just started producing gas and also the rest of Israel’s gas rigs in the Mediterranean. Hassan Nasrallah has already warned Israel from this possibility.

Ali Daamoush, Hezbollah’s representative in the Lebanese parliament sent a message to Netanyahu on November 13 saying that he cannot cancel the agreement for two reasons.

A. The agreement was approved by Israeli security establishment in order to avoid a war with Hezbollah and he will not be able to make a decision that contradicts this position.

B. The equation that Hezbollah imposed on the US and Israel is still in effect, this is the real guarantee for the implementation of the agreement, the equation that Hassan Nasrallah established means that Israel will not be able to produce natural gas as long as Lebanon does not exercise its right to extract gas from its natural reserves.

Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech last week that the maritime border agreement is “a very great achievement resulting from the integration between the state, the resistance and the people”.

The Hezbollah organization is very confident in its deterrent power, which is expressed in an arsenal of about 150,000 rockets and missiles, of which dozens are precision missiles that can hit strategic facilities inside Israel.

The assessment of political parties close to Prime Minister elect Netanyahu ,is that he is in no rush to get anywhere and he will look for the right moment to empty the agreement of its contents, at a time that suits Israel and without unnecessary risks, just as he emptied the contents of the Oslo Accords that endangered Israel.

In Lebanon a president has not yet been elected, and the interim government is filling the place of the president, the political system is unstable and it is not clear how long this instability will last, while in Israel the political system has stabilized and a government has been elected that can remain in power for four years.

We have to wait and see, Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the agreement with Lebanon and he has not yet said the last word on the matter.

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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