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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Washington: Ali Barda, Asharq Al-Awsat: Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv Begins Gas Production from Karish

Lebanese and Israeli flags (AA)

US envoy Amos Hochstein traveled to Beirut on Wednesday to represent his country at the official signing of the historic agreement to delineate the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel and pave the way for offshore energy exploration in the Mediterranean Sea.

“Hochstein traveled to Lebanon to finalize the historic agreement to establish a permanent maritime boundary between Lebanon and Israel,” the US State Department announced on Wednesday.

In Beirut, the envoy will meet with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, and Prime Minister Najib Mikati to extend his "gratitude" to each for the “consultative and open spirit” demonstrated throughout the negotiations, the foundations of which were created under Speaker Berri's leadership by the 2020 Framework, the Department said.

Hochstein will then travel to Naqoura for the final steps to bring Israel and Lebanon agreement into force.

“The parties will then submit the maritime coordinates to the United Nations in the presence of the United States,” according to the State Department.

Following his stay in Lebanon, Hochstein will then travel to Israel where he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and thank him and his team for their “persistent and principled diplomacy” to reach a resolution on this critical file.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who is currently in Washington, on the forthcoming conclusion of the US-mediated agreement resolving the maritime boundary dispute between Israel and Lebanon, according to a statement released by the State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.

Meanwhile, Israel on Wednesday granted permission for Energean to start gas production in the Karish field, one day prior to the signing of the deal with Lebanon.

“We are pleased to confirm that gas has been safely delivered at the Karish field, offshore Israel,” Energean said, adding that the flow of gas is being steadily ramped.

The Israeli Ministry of Energy earlier announced it has granted approval to Energean to start production at the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean.

Energean has said its floating production storage and offloading vessel is due to start production at Karish in the third quarter but has not given a precise date.

Hezbollah group had threatened that work at the Karish field was linked to the signing of an agreement with Lebanon.

Israel’s decision to publicly notify Energean that it could start work before the signing ceremony is considered a provocation against the party.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government will hold an extraordinary session on Thursday morning to officially and finally ratify the agreement to demarcate the maritime borders with Lebanon.

Later, Lapid will sign the agreement in his office.

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