Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday branded Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s invitation to a security briefing on the maritime border deal between Israel and Lebanon as “futile,” while the premier’s party said the Likud leader’s rejection of the invite was “irresponsible.”
“On the one hand [Prime Minister Yair] Lapid refuses to bring his agreement surrendering to [Hezbollah terror leader] Nasrallah to the Knesset for approval on the grounds that the opposition does not like it, and on the other hand he invites the opposition to a futile briefing after the fact,” the Likud party said in a statement that was retweeted by Netanyahu.
“Lapid’s conduct is not democratic. We insist that the agreement be brought to the Knesset for approval,” the tweet concluded.
In response, Lapid’s Yesh Atid said that Netanyahu was an “irresponsible opposition leader” for “refusing to attend the briefing on the historic agreement… supported by the entire security establishment.”
Netanyahu and others have claimed that Lapid’s government, which has no Knesset majority, does not have the mandate to approve such a far-reaching agreement, but the notion has been rebuffed by Israel’s attorney general and the High Court.
Both Israel and Lebanon’s governments backed the final text of the deal last week, but Netanyahu has said that he will not be bound by it if he manages to retake power after elections on November 1, branding the deal as a “surrender” by Israel to threats from the Hezbollah terror group.
Last week Lapid said the agreement would “strengthen Israel’s security, inject billions into Israel’s economy, and ensure the stability of our northern border.”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has announced that Beirut formally accepted the US-brokered agreement, but emphasized that “no normalization with Israel took place.”
The deal gives Israel exclusive rights to the Karish field but cedes the Qana field it had also sought, though Jerusalem will get a share of the revenue from potential gas riches pulled out of the seabed under a Lebanese lease.
The Biden administration’s energy envoy Amos Hochstein, who brokered the deal, has insisted that it will ensure Israel’s security, pushing back against claims that Jerusalem had caved to terrorist threats.
Last week Hochstein dismissed Netanyahu’s rhetoric on the matter as political posturing for the sake of winning votes.
“There’s always a lot of heated rhetoric in political campaigns, especially as you get closer to the election,” Hochstein told Channel 12 news, indicating that Netanyahu had not been opposed to an agreement along similar parameters.
“I think that the overwhelming interest of the Israeli national security establishment, of this government, and of previous governments is that they have all wanted an arrangement along these lines,” he said.
The mediator also noted that Lebanon had also made concessions in the agreement, indicating that Beirut had not wanted to formally recognize the buoy boundary that Israel unilaterally established in 2000 extending roughly five kilometers off the coast of Rosh Hanikra, but agreed to do so in a “legally binding way,” turning the boundary into a border.
Hochstein claimed that Israeli concessions on the Qana field, which straddles the countries’ exclusive economic zones but will be controlled by Lebanon, were insignificant.
Source: The Times of Isreal