US says controversial Lebanon-Israel maritime border talks over gas find 'productive'

US says controversial Lebanon-Israel maritime border talks over gas find 'productive'
2 min read
28 June, 2022
The US said on Monday talks between its energy envoy, Lebanon and Israel over a maritime gas dispute were going well
Enemy states Lebanon and Israel are caught in a years-long dispute over a maritime border demarcation [Getty]

Talks between Lebanese and Israeli officials to end a maritime border dispute have seen progress, Washington said on Monday.

Both countries are eager to fix borders to allow for the exploitation of gas reserves in the Mediterranean.

US energy envoy Amos Hochstein has been in the region to facilitate indirect talks between the two sides, who have no official diplomatic ties.

"The exchanges were productive and advanced the objective of narrowing differences between the two sides," the State Department said in a statement on Monday. "The United States will remain engaged with parties in the days and weeks ahead."

Hochstein passed on the Lebanese government's demands to Israel after visiting Beirut earlier this month. The US has been mediating talks between the enemy states for years.

Lebanon invited Hochstein to Beirut after objecting to the arrival of a vessel operated by London-based Energean off the coast of Israel's Haifa on 5 June to develop a gas field known as Karish.

This had prompted backlash from Beirut and raised fears of a possible clash between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah, with the last war between the two sides fought in 2006.

Hezbollah has claimed it can stop Israel from extracting gas from Karish, warning that it will strike it if it does.

Israel has also warned to launch an "unprecedented" and "devastating" war on Lebanon, reeling under its worst-ever financial and economic crisis.

Analysts say the two sides are unlikely to go to war soon, with Hezbollah bogged down in the war in Syria where it is fighting to prop up Bashar Al-Assad.