Lebanon awaits the official stance from the US Energy Envoy Amos Hochstein on the maritime deal, with some Israeli media outlets casting doubt on the outcome of Thursday’s Zionist security cabinet meeting.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Friday that Beirut “is awaiting the outcome of the contacts Hochstein is making with the Israeli side” on the issue.
In remarks following meeting Assistant Secretary-General of the Arab League Hossam Zaki, President Aoun said: “The outcome will determine the course of the indirect negotiations to demarcate the southern maritime borders.”
For his part, Speaker Nabih Berri announced that “Lebanon doesn’t give an ear to media leaks but rather to facts that are supposed to be announced by the US mediator whom we exclusively hold contacts with.”
In remarks carried by Al-Manar on Friday morning, Speaker Berri described the Lebanese modifications on Hochstein’s as minor, noting that they were discussed with the US envoy before being officially delivered.
“What’s going on now are Israeli electoral and local skirmishes that we are not concerned with.”
“Lebanon waits for an official response from Hochstein to ground on,” the Lebanese speaker concluded.
“Last-minute Tactic by Israel”
Meanwhile in the Zionist entity, Israeli media outlets beat the drum for Israeli PM Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gnatz stances.
Shortly after a senior Israeli diplomatic source said on Thursday that Lapid rejected changes proposed by Lebanon on Hochstein’s proposal, Gantz ordered Israeli troops to be on alert, with several Israeli media outlets claiming that the Zionist entity “is readying for war with Hezbollah.”
“Israel preparing for potential escalation in north,” i24NEWS and Ynet reported, while The Jerusalem Post entitled its article on the issue: “Israel readies for war with Hezbollah after Lebanon ups maritime deal demands.”
However, other Israeli media outlets cast doubt on seriousness of announcements made by Lapid and Gantz. Israeli Channel 12 said the announcements were part of in the “last-minute tactic”, noting that the maritime deal is likely to be signed no later than two weeks.
Meanwhile, Former Israeli National Security Council chair Brig. Gen. (res) Yaakov Nagel told the Israel Hayom daily on Thursday that the Zionist entity was “still far from a military confrontation” on the northern border.
Al-Manar’s Editor of Hebrew Affairs Hasan Hijazi said that Tel Aviv also awaits Hochstein’s stance, citing Lapid remarks reported by Israeli media.
In remarks during Al-Manar’s news bulletin on Friday, Hijazi said the Israeli regime is now looking for an exit strategy following the latest blustery rhetoric adopted by Zionist officials.
“Remarks by Israeli commentators focused in the latest hours on the electoral considerations the Israeli official stances were based upon. Several commentators accused Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu of heating the debate on the maritime deal by mixing up between this issue with the upcoming elections in the Zionist entity,” Hijazi said.
US Says ‘Committed to Reach Resolution’
On the other hand, the White House said Thursday that talks have reached a ‘critical stage’ and that US envoy Amos Hochstein remains in close contact with both sides.
“Special Presidential Coordinator Amos Hochstein continues his robust engagement to bring the maritime boundary discussions to a close. We remain in close communication with the Israelis and Lebanese,” said a White House National Security Council spokesperson.
“We are at a critical stage in the negotiations and the gaps have narrowed. We remain committed to reaching a resolution and believe a lasting compromise is possible,” the spokesperson said.
Source: Al-Manar English Website