BEIRUT (Reuters) – The United States will defend a maritime border agreement with Israel if former conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wins an election, interim Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Wednesday.
Netanyahu has threatened to “neutralize” the accord, which came into effect after years of US-backed backdoor negotiations that finally established a Mediterranean border between the two rival nations after decades of hostility.
The United States promised to guarantee the treaty. U.S. Energy Ambassador Amos Hochstein, the mediator in the talks, told reporters in Lebanon that he hoped the deal would survive both disputed elections in Israel and the transition to a new president in Lebanon.
In a telephone interview with Reuters from the Arab League summit in Algiers, Mikati appeared confident, saying he was “not afraid” about the fate of the deal.
“We are not afraid of a change of authorities in Israel.” “Whether Netanyahu wins or somebody else wins, nobody can oppose it (the deal),” he said.
The United States, he said, was responsible for its smooth implementation, “as the sponsor of this agreement”.
Although limited, the outline of the agreement should pave the way for both Israel and Lebanon to further exploit energy resources.
(Reporting by Laila Bassam and Maya Khebili)
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