Border Talks with Lebanon Underway
Israel has added to the list of diplomatic discussions and decisions it has made this fall. After agreeing to normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain last month, today Israel sent a negotiating team to meet with Lebanon “for the first session of U.S.-brokered maritime-border talks,” according to JNS.org. A joint statement from the United States and United Nations said the representatives had “productive talks and reaffirmed their commitment to continue negotiations later this month.” Discoveries of natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea have increased the Israel and Lebanon border dispute over the past decade, and Lebanon’s economic crisis has caused them to request the right to drill for natural gas in this area, where Israel also intends to drill, according to JNS.org.
Border disputes are nothing new, but coming to the table to discuss cooperation might be. Many of Israel’s hostile neighbors continually try to wear Israel down to the point of giving up land. That’s why it’s encouraging to see Lebanon, which borders Israel in the north, going the diplomatic route instead of perpetrating violence. Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz shared the encouraging goal of the discussions: “to bring an end to the dispute between Israel and Lebanon over the demarcation of the Exclusive Economic Zones, to assist in the development of natural resources for the benefit of all the peoples of the region.” I’m happy to see Israel continue to make progress with countries that seem to be undergoing a change of heart. May this be another move that makes the peace of Jerusalem nearer than ever.