Israel PM Lapid claims Lebanon 'recognizes' Israel in sea border deal
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday claimed Israel's foe Lebanon de-facto "recognizes" the state of Israel, due to a sea border deal the two states are set to sign imminently.
"This is a political achievement -- it is not every day that an enemy state recognizes the State of Israel, in a written agreement, in front of the entire international community," Lapid said.
The premier was speaking at the opening of a cabinet meeting convened to formally approve the deal, hours ahead of the expected signing by the two parties of separate copies of the agreement.
"The State of Israel won today. In security, economically, diplomatically, and in energy," Lapid said.
The final accord is due to be signed at the headquarters of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon in the border town of Naqoura, in the presence of U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein and the U.N.'s special coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka.
The deal was hailed by U.S. President Joe Biden as a "historic breakthrough" on Wednesday.
"It took principled and persistent diplomacy to get it done," Biden said, during a meeting in Washington with his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog.
Washington has played a key role in mediating the lengthy negotiations between Israel and Lebanon, who remain technically still at war after numerous conflicts between the two sides.
Lebanon will not allow its delegation to be in the same room as the Israeli side, and the two parties will not even sign the same piece of paper.
"The agreement... will take the form of two exchanges of letters, one between Lebanon and the United States, and one between Israel and the United States," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the U.N. Secretary General.
Rafic Chelala, a spokesman for the Lebanese presidency, confirmed that the Lebanese delegation "will not ... meet the Israeli delegation"