Israel says ‘historic’ sea border deal struck with Lebanon

Israel’s prime minister said Tuesday that the country has reached an “historic agreement” with neighboring Lebanon over their shared maritime border after months of U.S.-brokered negotiations.

At stake are rights over exploiting undersea natural gas reserves in areas of the eastern Mediterranean that the two countries — which do not have diplomatic relations — claim.

Premier Yair Lapid called the deal an “historic achievement that will strengthen Israel’s security, inject billions into Israel’s economy, and ensure the stability of our northern border.”

The agreement is expected to enable additional natural gas production in the Mediterranean. Lebanon hopes gas exploration will help lift its country out of its spiraling economic crisis.

The final draft of the agreement will be brought before Israel’s caretaker government for approval, just weeks before the country goes to the polls for the fifth time in under four years.

Lebanon and Israel have been officially at war since Israel’s creation in 1948 and both countries claim some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea.

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