JERUSALEM (HPD) — The Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday rejected four challenges to a landmark maritime agreement between Israel and Lebanon, clearing a major hurdle to a deal that could transform relations between the two countries.
The court did not initially publish the reasons for rejecting the appeals, submitted by an influential conservative political group and an ultra-nationalist Israeli politician, among others. The ruling paved the way for the deal to receive final approval from the Israeli government, which is expected this week.
Lebanon and Israel claim an area of some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea. At stake are the rights to exploit underwater gas reserves. Lebanon hopes that the prospects will help pull his country out of its uncontrolled economic crisis, while Israel hopes to exploit gas reserves and ease tensions with its northern neighbor.
Critics of the deal who had appealed to the court questioned the current interim government’s authority to change Israel’s maritime border or make such important and strategic decisions without an electoral mandate.
“Israel has crossed a fundamental democratic line, with an outgoing government agreeing to cede sovereign territory of the country to an enemy state days before an election,” said Eugene Kontorovich of the Kohelet Political Forum, the conservative think tank who had come to the meetings. courts. Israel next week celebrates its fifth elections in less than four years.
Israel and Lebanon have officially been at war since Israel’s formation in 1948. In 2006, Israel and the Shiite armed group Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006 that ended in a stalemate, and tensions with the group remain high.
Israel says the deal will bolster its security, help stabilize the northern border and bolster the economy with billions in revenue from gas that is discovered.