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Israel and Lebanon reach historic agreement, paving the way to potentially rich gas exploration


Israel and Lebanon have reached a historic agreement, leaders on each side said separately on Tuesday, settling a years-long maritime border dispute involving major oil and gas fields in the Mediterranean.

“The final version of the offer is satisfactory to Lebanon and meets its demands and preserved Lebanon’s rights of this natural wealth,” Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said in a statement hours after receiving Israel’s final offer through US mediator Amos Hochstein.

Aoun said he hopes the agreement will be announced “as soon as possible.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said: “This is an historic achievement that will strengthen Israel’s security, inject billions into Israel’s economy, and ensure the stability of our northern border.”

The draft agreement meets all the security and economic principles laid out by Israel, Lapid said.

The Israeli prime minister will convene the security cabinet on Wednesday followed by a special meeting of the government, he said.

The disputed area includes the Karish oil and gas field and a region known as the Qanaa prospect, which are expected to fall into Israeli and Lebanese waters respectively under the deal. Israel has said it would begin extracting oil and gas from Karish and exporting it to Europe imminently.

On Tuesday, Lebanese Energy Minister Walid Fayyad also said the French energy company Total, which owns the contract to explore Lebanese waters, would start working on the Qanaa prospect “immediately.”

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