Four legal challenges to a historic maritime agreement between Israel and Lebanon were dismissed by Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday, removing a significant roadblock for the accord that might lead to a substantial improvement in bilateral relations.
The challenges, which were put forth by, among others, an ultranationalist Israeli politician and a significant conservative policy organization, were denied by the court, but the court withheld their justifications at the time.
The court’s decision clears the way for Israel’s government to officially approve the agreement, which is anticipated later this week.
About 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea are claimed by both Israel and Lebanon.
Rights to utilize undersea natural gas reserves are at risk. Lebanon expects that gas development will aid in resolving its nation’s escalating economic difficulties.
Along with reducing tensions with its northern neighbor, Israel also wants to take advantage of the gas reserves.
The current interim government should not be permitted to alter Israel’s maritime border or make such important, strategic choices without an electoral mandate, according to opponents of the agreement who had appealed to the court.
Israel and Lebanon have been formally at war since 1948 when Israel was founded.
Tensions with Hezbollah are still high after a month-long conflict between Israel and the Shiite terrorist group in 2006.
Israel claims the agreement will increase its security, stabilize the northern border, and stimulate the economy with billions of dollars in revenue from any gas found.