Joe Biden, Israel's Isaac Herzog announce deal on Lebanon boundary

U.S. President Joe Biden (R) meets with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday. Pool Photo by Doug Mills/UPI
U.S. President Joe Biden (R) meets with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday. Pool Photo by Doug Mills/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 26 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden and Israeli President Isaac Herzog announced a "historic" agreement Wednesday on a permanent maritime border between Israel and Lebanon.

The agreement will make way for the development of energy fields benefitting both countries in the Mediterranean Sea.


"It's a historic breakthrough and took a lot of courage for you," Biden told Herzog at the White House. "It took some real guts and I think it took principle and persistent diplomacy to get it done."

After months of negotiations, a final agreement was sent to Israel's government earlier this month. Lebanon and Israel have no official diplomatic ties. Both had claimed some 330 square miles of the same waters of the Mediterranean, leading to a push for a clearer demarcation line.

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Europe's growing need for gas caused by Russia's war on Ukraine is increasing interest in speeding exploration and drilling of gas fields in the Mediterranean -- and pushing Lebanon and Israel to try to settle their years-long dispute. The United States mediated the talks.

Lebanon, facing a dire economic crisis, could be buoyed by oil and gas discoveries.


Herzog's two-day visit to Washington included a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. The congressional leaders invited Herzog to address a joint meeting of Congress as Israel will soon celebrate the 75th anniversary of its founding.

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"Across the decades, the United States Congress has been proud to stand in solidarity with Israel on a bipartisan and bicameral basis," the pair said in a letter Tuesday. "It is our hope that the Congress will have the opportunity to hear from you at this historic and joyous milestone in the success of the state of Israel and the U.S.-Israel alliance."

Herzog echoed these sentiments on Wednesday as the United States and Israel near elections. For Israel, the election of a prime minister comes Tuesday with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

On Tuesday, Herzog met with the Jewish Federations of North America, held a talk at the Atlantic Council and attended meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pelosi.

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In a video statement issued ahead of the trip, Herzog said among the issues he was to discuss with U.S. leadership was "the Iranian threat," which he said "is destabilizing not only the Middle East but the entire world, requiring a firm and united stand against it."


Climate change, trade, business relations and diplomacy opportunities were also among the topics he was to discuss, he said.

The state of Israel was proclaimed at midnight May 14, 1948, with then-President Harry S. Truman that same day recognizing the Jewish state.

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