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Lebanon gas row tops agenda as Israel PM visits Paris

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Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid makes his first foreign trip as premier on Tuesday to Paris, where he will ask President Emmanuel Macron to intervene in a gas dispute with Lebanon.

Lapid took over the premiership on Friday following the collapse of Israel’s coalition government, which will see the country return to the polls in November for its fifth election in less than four years.

The nascent leader was confronted with his first test a day later, when Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement launched three drones towards an offshore gas field in the eastern Mediterranean.

“Hezbollah is continuing on the path of terrorism and is hurting Lebanon’s ability to reach an agreement on a maritime border,” Lapid said Sunday.

Lebanon rejects Israel’s claim that the Karish gas field lies within its territorial waters.

Israel and Lebanon resumed negotiations on their maritime border in 2020, though the Karish site sits outside of the disputed area and is marked as Israeli on previous United Nations maps.

The US-backed talks have been stalled by Beirut’s demand that the UN maps must be modified.

Hezbollah’s backers Iran will also be on the agenda at the bilateral talks in Paris, as Israel stands firmly opposed to international efforts to revive a nuclear accord with Tehran.

Israeli officials fear that giving Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme could allow Tehran to boost funding to Hezbollah, as well as the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Ukraine war prompts energy deal Map showing Israel-Lebanon maritime border claims..

Photo: Omar KAMAL / AFP Source: AFP Lapid’s predecessor Naftali Bennett described Israel’s arch foe Iran as an “octopus”, which reaches its tentacles across the region.

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