The Lebanon-Israel maritime deal and Hezbollah | By Dr Muhammad Akram Zaheer


The Lebanon-Israel maritime deal and Hezbollah

THE 1983 Israel-Lebanon Peace Accords established diplomatic relations after Israel expelled the Palestine Liberation Organization from its northern neighbour.

Syria immediately abrogated this new peace, even though it was a treaty under international law.

The agreement signed did not have “an Arab leader and an Israeli leader sitting down, but was a paper-document agreement between the US and Israel and the US and Lebanon, and Lebanon “signed in the same room of the Israelis.

On the security front, the noticeable threat from Hezbollah is considered a decisive factor. Hassan Nasrallah’s leadership gave security assurances to the Israeli leadership that the Shock field would not be attacked.

The entire deal was vetted by the group’s top officials before it was approved, marking a reversal in years of Hezbollah’s hardline stance in border negotiations with Israel.

However, the question is whether Hezbollah’s conciliatory position will be maintained. The movement currently lacks popular support in Lebanon and Hezbollah will be eager to exploit the country’s fragile political situation using its resistance rhetoric against its political opponents and their dealings with Israel.

Now it is impossible for Hezbollah to open hostility toward Israel. Although this is the worst time for Hezbollah to go to war because it has sent 4,000 to 8,000 armed men to Iran to support widespread protests against Israel’s government.

If it’s about deterrence, Israel just split them paying protection money to his opponents. As for the American guarantee of Israel’s security, this is said to be part of the exchange of letter.

American support for the Jewish state depends on the fact that “Israel carries its weight” as an ally of the United States.

Israel support United States stance on the issue of Russian invasion in Ukraine and China’s growing threat to Taiwan.

Israel’s willingness to chart its own course, as the then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposed the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal in a 2015 speech to Congress, told Gulf States like the Emirates United Arabs who can trust Israel.

He added that this helped open the door to Ibrahim Accord. The Lebanon deal could undermine that notion.

Israel is going to become a natural gas export hub with lines connecting Persian Gulf producers and Israel to Europe.

Instead, it seems likely that Israel will continue relying on natural gas exports through Egypt and Jordan rather than develop its own infrastructure.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid hailed the agreement as a political achievement, saying: It is not every day that an enemy country recognizes Israel in a written agreement in front of the international community as the beginning of a new era.

But the Lebanese government has also emphasized that the deal, reached after more than a decade of negotiations, does not signal a normalization of relations with Israel and is less important than agreements that established full diplomatic relations between Lebanon and Israel.

In Israel, the deal has been variously portrayed as a historic achievement that will boost regional prosperity and stability, or as a shameful capitulation to threats from the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah which has waged a months-long war with Israel.

Before a deal was sealed, Hezbollah had promised to block any Israeli attempt to drill at Karish Easter Mediterranean, an underwater gas field near the disputed border between the two countries.

Earlier this year, the Israeli army shot down several drones sent by Hezbollah as warnings to tamper with the Karish site, fuelling fears of heightened tension if the talks fail.

Israel has achieved in security, economy, diplomacy and energy. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Thursday that his group was backing down on the gas issue.

Now that the naval deal had been reached, he said in a televised address: “The resistance mission is complete and all Hezbollah’s extraordinary actions have ended.

” A Hezbollah spokesman said this meant that Hezbollah forces, which had been temporarily placed on full alert, were no longer preparing for a close battle.

“This deal is a concession if you look at it from the Israeli point of view” said Sarit Zahawi, a former military intelligence officer, describing it as a “moral and psychological victory” for Hezbollah.

In my understanding, it is a time buying strategy, the deal may not stop the war, but it possibly will help postpone the next conflict.

A former Israeli General Yaakov Omidor, and Netanyahu’s National Security Adviser, stated, “There is no question that Israel has capitulated” on where the border should be.

Nonetheless at least in the short term, Israel needs to get the fuel out of the deal. The main conflict between Israel and Hezbollah was not over gas but over Hezbollah’s ideology, weapons production and pro-Iranian agenda.

The offshore gas deal may be good for Israel economically; it could turn out bad strategically. The question is how the Hezbollah leader, Nasrullah, is reading the situation.

If Nasrallah understood the deal to mean the Israelis had accepted his threats and were not ready to confront Hezbollah, it would also speed up the schedule for the next conflict.

—The writer, a PhD scholar, is associated with Islamia University Bahawalpur.