A top American official arrived in Beirut on Tuesday in order to jumpstart negotiations between Israel and Lebanon on its maritime border.
According to the U.S. State Department, U.S. Senior Advisor for Global Energy Security Amos Hochstein, will also “discuss sustainable solutions to Lebanon’s energy crisis.” Hochstein’s delegation will participate in indirect negotiations between Beirut and Tel Aviv. Lebanon and Israel do not have diplomatic relations.
“Mr. Hochstein will also underscore the Biden Administration’s willingness to help Lebanon and Israel find a mutually agreeable solution to their shared maritime boundary for the benefit of both peoples,” the State Department said in a statement.
Hochstein replaces John Derocher under whom the talks between the two sides stalled back in May.
Lebanese media previously reported that “Hochstein will seek to revive the maritime negotiating track, not by returning negotiators from the two sides to the Naqoura table, but through shuttle tours that he will make, traveling between Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, to convey the two points of view.”
Demarcation of the maritime borders is a priority for Lebanon, which is in the midst of an economic crisis that the World Bank has classified among the world’s worst since 1850. Lebanon is also experiencing a massive fuel shortage. Earlier this month, the electricity went out across the nation for 24 hours underscoring the desperate need for fuel supplies.
Progress in these negotiations with Israel would facilitate Lebanon’s exploration of oil resources in the Mediterranean Sea and help its ailing economy.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has been illegally bringing in Iranian fuel supplies and has told Lebanon it should get the U.S. to waive sanctions on these shipments.