Israel Approves Biden-Sponsored Maritime Deal With Lebanon; Netanyahu Slams Agreement as “Historic Surrender” to Hezbollah
Former U.S. envoy to Israel David Friedman: The “dubious” deal “another colossal foreign policy blunder by the Biden administration.”
Less than three weeks before the national election, Israel’s caretaker government has approved the maritime deal with neighboring Lebanon, which U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration proposed.
Ahead of the November 1 general election, interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s government “approved the principles of the Lebanon maritime border agreement in a majority vote, and was presented to the Knesset where it could be reviewed by legislators during the next two weeks before returning to the government for final a final vote,” the Israeli broadcaster Ynet News reported Wednesday.
The agreement finalized by the Biden White House gives Iran-backed Lebanese state and Hezbollah terrorist group a share of Israel’s undersea natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea, critics say.
The Biden administration negotiated the deal, which obliges Israel to give up sovereignty over hundreds of miles of undersea territory amid Hezbollah’s repeated terror threats against Israel’s offshore energy infrastructure.
The sharpest criticism of the Biden-backed deal came from former Prime Minister and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. By approving the agreement, the current government “took our sovereign land and gave it away,” he said.
He warned that the Biden-sponsored deal is a “historic surrender” to the Lebanese government and Iran-backed terrorist militia Hezbollah.
Israeli TV channel i24News reported the former prime minister’s remarks:
Israel’s Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the agreement announced earlier on Tuesday by Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on delimiting the maritime border with Lebanon.
In response to Lapid’s proclamation that the agreement was “historic,” the former prime minister called the US-brokered deal a “historic surrender.”
Netanyahu said Lapid conceded to “all of Hezbollah’s demands, claiming that Lapid was “frightened” and thus “surrendered.”
Some members of the ruling coalition backed Netanyahu’s stance.
The charge against the deal was led by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who blasted the interim government for rushing to ratify the agreement just weeks ahead of the election. The Times of Israel reported:
An overwhelming majority of cabinet ministers backed the agreement, though there was some opposition, including from Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who earlier abstained when the security cabinet voted to send the deal to the full cabinet.
She reportedly suggested hypocrisy by her fellow ministers during the cabinet meeting, arguing they would have forcefully condemned a vote on the deal shortly before elections if opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu was still premier.
“If Netanyahu brought the same deal two weeks before elections and you were in the opposition, you would burn down the country,” she was quoted as saying by Channel 12 news. “You would call him [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and discuss the destruction of democracy.”
Biden’s Latest “Colossal Foreign Policy Blunder”
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who served under President Donald Trump, slammed the “dubious” deal as “another colossal foreign policy blunder by the Biden administration.”
Friedman disclosed that the deal sponsored by the current White House had negated all the progress made on the issue by the Trump administration. He added that Biden’s agreement favors Lebanon and offers nothing in return to Israel.
“We spent years trying to broker a deal between Israel and Lebanon on the disputed maritime gas fields. Got very close with proposed splits of 55-60% for Lebanon and 45-40% for Israel,” the former envoy wrote last week on Twitter. “No one then imagined 100% to Lebanon and 0% to Israel.”
Assuming Haaretz’ reporting to be true that the US forced Israel to prematurely announce the gas deal with Lebanon, this looks like another colossal foreign policy blunder by the Biden administration. 1/
— David M Friedman (@DavidM_Friedman) October 6, 2022
Netanyahu Seeks Referendum
The deal has now been presented to the parliament, where the current coalition government lost its majority in May — thus triggering a snap election. “Israeli law requires the govt to bring agreements requiring the concession of territory to the Knesset where it has to be passed by a 2/3 majority. Failing that, it needs to be put before the public in a referendum,” prominent Israeli commentator Caroline Glick explained on Twitter.DONATE
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