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Why enemies Lebanon and Israel are talking now

At its heart is the gas-rich Karish field in the eastern Mediterranean, which Israel plans to begin exploiting.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated in 2010 that the Levantine basin could hold 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 122 trillion cubic feet of gas. For comparison, this would make the basin’s gas reserves equal to about 7% of Russia’s reserves, the largest in the world.

Orna Mizrahi, a senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, told reporters on Sunday that the main problem hindering an agreement between the two sides was “a change in the Lebanese stance” on where the maritime border between the two sides is located. Israel and Lebanon are lying.

What is the current Lebanese-Israeli conflict about?

The crux of the dispute is actually about the maritime economic boundary between the two countries and how to calculate the demarcation line stretching from the land border of Lebanon and Israel.

Over the years the disputed territory covered an area of ​​approximately 860 square kilometers and claimed that the Lebanese maritime border was south of Israel’s claim. Beneath these boundary lines, the Karish field lies well within the Israeli-claimed area.

However, according to Mizrahi, Lebanon has recently revised its original maritime boundary claim, moving it further south, adding about 1,400 square kilometers more than originally claimed. The extra area includes part of the Karish field, where Israel is conducting exploration.

Why has this debate flared up now?

On June 5, when London-based oil and gas exploration company Energean arrived on behalf of Israel to begin development of the Karish, Lebanon argued that the field should not be developed until negotiations were concluded to determine the maritime boundary.

Why are these conversations important?

Struggling with a crippled economy and a fragmented government, Lebanon desperately needs new sources of income from oil and gas exploration, while Israel is keen to position itself as a new gas supplier to Europe as an alternative to Russia. Drawing the border would allow both sides to exploit the resources of the Mediterranean without legal obstacles or the potential threat of military conflict.

“Lebanon needs this deal more than Israel does today,” said Lebanese energy expert Laury Haytayan, adding that an agreement would provide Israel with security by allowing it to explore and drill with Lebanon “without the danger of a continued escalation of tensions”.

What is the current status of the talks?

The US proposed a compromise solution that would create an S-shaped maritime economic boundary between the two countries. According to the proposal, all of Karish would go to Israel, while most of Qana, another area with commercially viable gas potential, would go to Lebanon.
US mediator Amos Hochstein said in an interview with US-based Al-Hurra TV that a proposal presented to him by Lebanese authorities would allow negotiations to “go forward”.


US hits Iran with new sanctions, targets Chinese and UAE companies

The US issued new sanctions on Iran on Thursday, according to the US Treasury Department. The new sanctions have targeted Chinese and UAE companies and a network of Iranian firms that assist in the export of Iranian petrochemical products.

  • Background: The US has imposed sanctions on a network of Iranian petrochemical manufacturers, as well as “front companies” in China, the UAE and Iran, saying they are “intermediaries” for the export of Iranian petrochemical products. According to the statement, the network has also engaged in facilitating international transactions and avoiding sanctions. The Chinese and Emirati companies could not be reached by Reuters for comment.
  • Why is it important: The steps taken could increase pressure on Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which would curtail Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. With the deal nearing completion, negotiations have stalled since March, when the US’s designation of Iran’s elite IRGC as terrorism emerged as a final issue.

Israeli police complete investigation into behavior during Shireen Abu Akleh’s funeral

Israeli police said they had concluded their investigation into police actions during the funeral of slain Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Jerusalem last month. Rather than release any details of the investigation or findings, the police issued a statement in which Israeli Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai acknowledged that Abu Akleh’s funeral was a “complicated affair”, adding that it was “impossible to remain indifferent to the harsh footage”. Israeli media has widely reported that no on-duty police officer or their commander will be punished for their actions.
  • Background: Television footage showed officers hitting the mourners with batons, causing the coffin to nearly drop the coffin. At the time, Israeli police told police they were reacting to objects and stones thrown at them. Shabtai said the police were investigating the behavior of the forces on the ground, but blamed the funeral attendees for the way events unfolded: “We have to learn this thoroughly. [the lessons from] So that in the future such sensitive events will not be disturbed and respected by violent rebels.”
  • why is it important: After the parade, Israeli police came under harsh criticism, the White House described the footage as “disturbing”, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “deeply disturbed by the footage of Israeli police intruding on the funeral.”

‘Jamal Khashoggi Way’ sign unveiled in front of Saudi embassy in Washington DC

A street sign honoring the slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was unveiled outside the Saudi embassy in Washington DC on Wednesday, and DC Council chairman Phil Mendelson said, “The district creates a monument in his honor that cannot be covered up or suppressed.”
  • Background: Last year, US intelligence reports revealed that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) “approved the operation to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey,” which MBS denied.
  • why is it important: The opening of “Jamal Khashoggi Road” came a month before Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, where he wanted to meet with MBS. Gezi drew criticism from members of his party and human rights defenders over the kingdom’s human rights record and the murder of the journalist.

around the area

Sultan al-Mutlaq al-Davis (right) from the Kuwait National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature stands next to Osama Shaltout (left), the Egyptian Ambassador to Kuwait, at the delivery ceremony of five works in Istanbul.  Egyptian Embassy in Kuwait on 16 June.
The MENA state news agency said Egypt seized five pharaonic artifacts smuggled out of the North African country seized in 2019 by Kuwaiti customs on Thursday.

The artifacts were statues of Egyptian pharaohs, including Amenhotep III and Amun-Ra, as well as the ancient Egyptian god Horus. Among them was a stone wall painting.

The state-run Kuwait News Agency reported that three of the works were published in BC. Noting that it belongs to the year 1400, he added that this is the second time Kuwait has returned the stolen artifacts to Egypt. In 2018, the Gulf country returned a wooden coffin case to Egypt.

Theft and smuggling of antiquities increased in Egypt following the 2011 uprising, which saw relics stolen from museums as well as through illegal excavations. The North African nation is moving forward with its efforts to find and retrieve its stolen treasures.

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