Hezbollah ends anti-Israel mobilisation after maritime border deal

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah announced the end of his armed group’s “exceptional” mobilisation against Israel after Lebanese and Israeli leaders finalised a US-brokered maritime demarcation deal.

“The mission was accomplished,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Thursday.

He said the agreement a great victory for Lebanon and its population, reports Xinhua news agency.

Lebanese authorities were careful not to take any steps that may be perceived as normalization with Israel, Nasrallah noted.

Technically, Lebanon and Israel have remained in a state of war.

“What was signed by President Michel Aoun is not an international treaty, and it is not a recognition of Israel,” the Hezbollah leader said.

Hezbollah is a Lebanese armed group and political party backed by Iran.

Israel and Lebanon signed a landmark deal on Thursday, setting the maritime boundary for the first time and giving the green light to lucrative gas explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Earlier in the day, Lebanese President Michel Aoun signed in his palace a letter approving the agreement.

Later, Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed a similar letter in Jerusalem, following a special government meeting in which the ministers approved the deal.

No signing ceremony was held as the agreement is not a normalization deal between the two countries, which have been technically in a state of war since the statehood of Israel in 1948.

Instead, low-level Israeli and Lebanese delegations submitted signed letters of approval in the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in Naqoura.

While Lapid said the agreement was a “tremendous achievement”, Lebanon’s top negotiator and deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab told reporters that the deal marks “a new era”.

However, Aoun said later that the deal does not mean the “normalisation of relations with Israel”.

The deal, backed by Israel’s military, National Security Council and Defence Ministry, is believed to have ended the immediate threat of conflict between Israel and the Hezbollah.

It covers an area of about 860 sq.km claimed by both countries, where natural gas fields have been discovered.

Israel will keep its control over the Karish natural gas field and receive 17 per cent of the profits from the unexplored Qana natural gas field, which under the deal will be under Lebanese control.

The field would be explored and exploited by the French energy corporation Total, raising hopes it would alleviate Lebanon’s economic crisis.

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