Lebanon deal “staves off the possibility of a military clash with Hezbollah,” says Israeli PM

Lapid presented the various benefits of the maritime agreement during a live press conference

Israel’s government convenes to discuss the maritime border deal with Lebanon, Wednesday. Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO

Following the Israeli government’s authorization to move forward with authorizing the maritime border deal with Lebanon, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said last night that “This is a good deal for the State of Israel, for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy, for the citizens of Israel.”

Speaking at a press conference which was broadcast live across the country, Lapid explained that Israel “refused the final demands raised by the Lebanese government last week, and they were removed from the final wording.

“This is a great achievement for the State of Israel, for Israel’s security and for Israel’s economy.”

Lapid went on to explain the benefits of the deal, which he says “preserves the security of communities in the north as well as the freedom of action of the IDF and the Israeli Navy’s control of the area closest to the shoreline, on what is known as the Buoy Line. The security establishment made clear to the Security Cabinet and the Government that this agreement optimally meets our security needs.

“As the Chief of General Staff told the Government, it does not preserve our security, it enhances our security.

“This agreement staves off the possibility of a military clash with Hezbollah. Israel is not afraid of Hezbollah. The IDF is stronger than any terror organization, and if we went out to battle, we would deal them a heavy blow. That being said, if it is possible to prevent war, it is the job of a responsible government to do so.

“This deal secures the energy security of the State of Israel and will bring in billions in revenue that every family in Israel will benefit from.

Lapid went on to explain that “Israel will receive approximately 17% of the revenues from the Lebanese gas field, the Qana-Sidon field, if and when they will open it. We built this agreement with the Americans so that money from this field will not reach Hezbollah.”

This is a compromise on the part of Israel, estimated at a loss of NIS 3-4 billion a year (assuming, of course, gas is found in the Lebanese field). However, experts have noted that a single day of war – as would have likely been the case – costs roughly NIS 1 billion.

“I wish to speak today as someone who began most of his military service for the State of Israel, in Lebanon over 40 years ago, as someone who knows the security reality on the ground, the costs of war, and if I may also say - the Lebanese people,” said Israeli Minister of Defense, Banny Gantz, who spoke after Lapid.

“The agreement we discuss today is important and just, and it serves the deepest interests of the State of Israel.

“The agreement guarantees continued freedom of action in the area adjacent to the coast and wherever necessary. It establishes a new ‘security equation’ with regard to the sea and the strategic assets of the State of Israel, and has the potential to reduce Iran's influence on Lebanon.’

Gantz acknowledged that “the maturity date of the agreement close to the elections is not optimal,” however, he said he believes it is necessary, because there is currently “a window of opportunity that may close. This agreement is in the interest of the citizens of Israel.”

Yesterday afternoon, the government approved, with an overwhelming majority, the principles of the agreement with Lebanon as well as Prime Minister Yair Lapid's proposal to send the agreement to the Knesset for review. Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked voted against this, while Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel abstained.

The other members of the government expressed their support for the importance and necessity of the maritime agreement with Lebanon at this time, as well as their support for Prime Minister Lapid's proposal to send the agreement to the Knesset for review.

During the cabinet meeting, the relevant professional bodies presented the principles of the agreement and the ways it will strengthen national security and regional stability.

The agreement and the explanatory notes was sent to the Knesset last night, and will also be presented to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. All classified intelligence materials that we cannot bring before the Knesset plenum, will be laid out before the committee.

 At the end of 14 days, the agreement will be submitted for government approval. This is in accordance with the necessary regulations, as well as the overview and approval of the Attorney General.

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