May 29, 2023

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Israel’s leader, Lapid, travels to Paris to discuss Lebanon and Iran

YAïr Lapid was named Israeli prime minister on Friday under a power-sharing deal with Naftali Bennett that would provide a rotation at the head of the government if the Knesset, the parliament, is dissolved.

In recent weeks, their coalition has lost its majority, leading to the dissolution of parliament and the holding of elections in November, thus giving Yair Lapid access to the highest steps of power. An interim government should be ensured until the next government is formed.

The day after Lapid came to power, the Israeli military said it had shot down three Lebanese Hezbollah drones headed for the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean, amid rising tensions between Israel and Lebanon in recent weeks.

Before leaving for France, a visit was first planned to his predecessor Naftali Bennett, who Lapid said he wanted to discuss with President Macron. “Israel cannot allow repeated attacks on Israeli gas fields”.

Those who carried out the drone attack “Knowing that they are taking an unnecessary risk, the Lebanese government must rein in Hezbollah or we will be forced to do so.”He told reporters at Tel Aviv airport. “Hezbollah continues on the path of terror and undermines Lebanon’s ability to reach an agreement on maritime borders”He had already commented this weekend.

Will negotiations on maritime boundaries resume?

The visit comes ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, the occupied West Bank and Saudi Arabia next week as part of his first tour of the Middle East since taking the White House.

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Lebanon and Israel, two neighbors officially still at war, began unprecedented negotiations under Washington’s direction in October 2020 to demarcate their maritime borders to remove barriers to hydrocarbon prospecting. But the talks were suspended in May 2021 due to disputes over the disputed area and specifically the surface of the Karish field.

“We know the importance of France’s position on issues related to Lebanon and we are going to ask France to intervene to sustain negotiations that lead to a conclusion on the gas issues”A senior Israeli official told reporters.

Israel signed a deal in mid-June to supply natural gas to Egypt, which plans to liquefy it for export to Europe. The old continent is actually trying to diversify its energy supplies after Russia’s decision to cut gas supplies to European countries.

Meanwhile, Israel says it wants to ensure gas peace in the eastern Mediterranean, where the discovery and exploitation of deposits over the past decade has fueled border disputes.

Mobilizing Europeans against Iran

Besides Hezbollah, Iran should be on the menu of Macron-Lapid exchanges, with the Jewish state trying to convince Western powers not to renew the deal governing Iran’s nuclear program (JCPOA) in exchange for lifting sanctions on Tehran. “Our position against this deal and against Iran’s nuclear weapons is important to be heard at this time.”Lapid said Tuesday.

Israeli officials, who fear Iran will acquire nuclear weapons – which Tehran denies – specifically fear that lifting sanctions would allow Iran to fill its coffers. Or Palestinian Hamas.

As Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett argued “The Octopus Theory” Against Tehran, they prefer to target it directly rather than target it directly “tents” in the region.

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After him, Lapid promised “Do all things in his power” To prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons or “To take root in the borders” Israel specifically mentions neighboring Syria.