A sixth round of maritime border demarcation negotiations between Lebanon and Israel has been postponed indefinitely due to preconditions set by Tel Aviv, according to Lebanese media sources.
The session was scheduled for Wednesday at the headquarters of the UN Interim Force (UNIFIL) in southern Lebanon’s Naqoura region but it was canceled after the Lebanese negotiating delegation headed by Brigadier General Bassam Yassin ditched it, the private Al-Jadid channel said.
The media outlet cited Israeli preconditions in terms of limiting negotiations to an area of 860 square kilometers as the reason behind the freezing of the negotiations.
Lebanon is locked in a dispute with Israel over an area in the Mediterranean Sea spanning about 860 square kilometers (some 332 square miles), known as Zone No. 9, which is rich with oil and gas, but the Lebanese negotiating delegation says the disputed area is 2,290 km.
A fifth round of the negotiations was held on Tuesday under the auspices of the UN and with American mediation, after a hiatus of about five months.
On Tuesday, Lebanese President Michel Aoun said in a statement that he had asked his negotiating delegation not to continue with the talks if preconditions were set by Israel.
According to the statement, Aoun was briefed on the proceedings of the meeting and the participation of the American delegation, which requested that the negotiations be limited only to the area between the Israeli line and the Lebanese line, a request that was in contrast with the Lebanese stance that the talks continue without preconditions.
In October 2020, indirect UN-brokered negotiations were launched between Lebanon and Israel with US mediation, following a dispute over their disputed maritime border along the Mediterranean Sea.
During one of the talks that took place previously, the Lebanese delegation presented a new map that would grant an additional 1,430 km to Lebanon, which Israel rejected.
In 2016, Beirut announced the launch of the first round of licenses for exploration.
The maritime borders between Lebanon and Israel have not seen any military conflicts, unlike their land borders.
Lebanese group Hezbollah controls the area bordering Israel, and sporadic incidents take place from time to time as Tel Aviv accuses the Shia group of attempting to breach the border.