Palestinians convey mixed reactions to Israel-Lebanon maritime deal

Palestinians convey mixed reactions to Israel-Lebanon maritime deal
"I understand that Lebanon needs the maritime deal in order to be able to sell its gas, and I don't blame the Lebanese for it, but we can't deny the political impression it creates and that Israel will exploit without a doubt," one Palestinian said.
5 min read
West Bank
13 October, 2022
Celebration, disappointment and scepticism of its political implications were among Palestinians' reactions to the maritime deal. [Qassam Muaddi/TNA]

While the maritime deal between Israel and Lebanon has garnered a variety of reactions in both Israel and Lebanon as Lebanese president Michael Aoun declared that the deal "will pull Lebanon out of the abyss," and Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid described the deal as "historic," the news did not escape the attention of Palestinians, who are mainly unsure how to respond.
On social media, several Palestinian users expressed scepticism towards the deal, while others celebrated it as an achievement for Lebanon.

On the ground, Palestinians have analysed the deal and its effects from different perspectives.

"The maritime deal between the occupation state and Lebanon can't be dissociated from the occupation's exploitation of the Palestinian gas off Gaza's shore," Hind Shraydeh, Palestinian commentator and writer based in Ramallah, told The New Arab.

"At the end of the day, it's our gas too, and Israel is using it for its own political and economic benefit. In a way, it's a gain for Israel," she said.
"However, we can't blame the Lebanese for it since our leadership isn't doing much to secure Palestinian rights," Shraydeh added.
"The Palestinian Authority is handling the matter in complete secrecy, without any kind of oversight, and this leaves Israel's hands-free to make deals on our gas resources, not only with Lebanon but also with European countries to sell our gas to them," she stressed.

Last year, the PA was criticised for joining the newly formed "Middle East Gas Forum," which also included Israel. Palestinian civil organisations considered that the move gave legitimacy to Israel's exploitation of Palestinian gas.
"We, as Palestinians, should address all companies who want to take part in the extraction of the gas in Gaza's shores or on the Lebanese borders that they are taking part in this Israeli pillage of resources," Shraydeh argued. "Until we begin to do that, we can not criticise the Lebanese government for the deal."
"Lebanon needs this deal to pull out of its economic crisis," Alia Alrosan, a Palestinian social worker in Ramallah, told TNA.
"We should recognise that the occupation state was forced to concede the maritime borders under the pressure of a potential war with the Lebanese Hezbollah and this in itself is an unprecedented phenomenon in Arab history," she pointed out.

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Last week, Israel's chief negotiator resigned from the negotiation process over differences with Israel's national security adviser on the negotiation's handling.
"It's unfair for us Palestinians to be left out as Israel makes deals with neighbouring countries over discovered gas, but we can't blame Lebanon for the results of decades of Arab normalisation with Israel," Alrosan noted.

 "We can't expect Lebanon to defend our interests, especially when we are still occupied and have no sovereignty on our resources," she added.

Nevertheless, plenty of Palestinians were more critical of the political implications of the maritime deal.
"Despite what the Lebanese might have achieved for themselves, I think that the maritime deal is more a gain for Israel than for Lebanon," Hala Yaacoub, a recently graduated Palestinian lawyer, said to TNA.
"Politically, the deal makes it seem as if the differences between Israel and Lebanon and Israel are those between any two neighbours over a borderline," she said. "Lebanon's conflict with Israel is much more fundamental, related to the fact that it has been paying the price of Israel's aggressions for decades, hosting hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees."

"Even though legally the maritime deal is not a peace treaty, it has a political effect on how the conflict between Lebanon and Israel is seen, and it has an impact on the Palestinian cause," she added. "I understand that Lebanon needs the maritime deal to be able to sell its gas, and I don't blame the Lebanese for it, but we can't deny the political impression it creates and that Israel will exploit without a doubt."
Some Palestinians, however, approached the deal from a broader economic perspective.
"We should look at the maritime deal in the context of the emerging new arrangements over energy in the Middle East," Razi Nabulsi, a Palestinian researcher based in Haifa, argued to TNA.
"It's all about the European need for gas, the Ukrainian crisis and the search for new economic relations in the Middle East and internationally," he said. "Israel has been using the newly discovered gas resources to secure itself a place in this new energy system, and the maritime deal with Lebanon reinforces this Israeli goal."
"The Lebanese might have forced a negotiated deal and secured some of their rights, but Israel just reinforced its place in the global energy economy and increased the West's need to have it in the region, to continue to deal with it economically, support it militarily and tolerate its abuses against the Palestinian people," he added.

The US-brokered deal intends to be a lasting resolution to the longtime dispute between Israel and Lebanon, according to the draft seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
It will enter into force once Lebanon and Israel send letters to the United States indicating their agreement, after which Washington will issue a notice to both officially announcing the deal is in place.