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‘Out of question’: Lebanon’s Aoun rules out peace with Israel

Lebanese President Michel Aoun holds his last meeting with journalists on Oct. 28, 2022, before the end of his tenure. (Photo by Lebanon presidency press service)

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has ruled out peace with the “Israeli enemy,” a day after the sides signed a deal that demarcates their maritime border in the Mediterranean Sea.

Aoun held a meeting with journalists on Friday to say farewell as he is set to leave Baabda Palace on Sunday, at the end of his term.

“The idea of peace with the Israeli enemy is out of the question,” he said, noting that the talks with the Israeli regime were indirect and that the deal was brokered by US mediation.

He also said that the regime “cannot withdraw” from the maritime deal.

Lebanon and Israel separately signed the US-brokered deal on Thursday. The final paperwork was submitted to the United Nations in Naqura, South Lebanon, concluding a long path of indirect negotiations of 12 years with the Israeli regime.

Separately on Friday, the outgoing president told LBCI that Lebanon “demarcated the borders to avert war,” and that the agreement was “the outcome of national interests and stability.”

“There are no papers, signatures, or anything else in the process of signing the demarcation agreement that could indicate a peace agreement [was made],” he said.

Israel and Lebanon have technically been at war for decades. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 during the latter’s civil war and occupied Lebanese territory until 2000. Israel’s last military aggression against Lebanon was in the summer of 2006.

On Thursday evening, the secretary general of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement called the deal a “very big victory for Lebanon and its people and resistance.”

“Our mission is complete,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said, emphasizing that the deal “is not an international treaty and must not be viewed as recognition of Israel.”

“Israel received no security guarantees,” the Hezbollah chief asserted.

The remarks came as Amos Hochstein, the US mediator, admitted on Thursday that Washington and Tel Aviv made concessions to Lebanon out of fear of war.

“War was a real threat and that if it happened, all oil and gas fields and international trade in the Mediterranean Sea and most importantly the flow of energy resources between the [Persian] Gulf and Europe would be disrupted,” he said.

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