In the recent weeks, the Lebanese press has reported that, following intense efforts by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield, Lebanon and Israel have agreed to hold U.S.-mediated talks to delimit their Exclusive Economic Zone waters, so as to enable both countries to develop the gas and oil fields off their shores. The objective is to settle the issue of an area of 860 square kilometers, most of which is included in energy block 9, that is disputed between the two countries, as Lebanon prepares to launch offshore drilling for gas and oil. Lebanon demands that the negotiations also include the issue of 13 disputed points along its land border with Israel, which was demarcated by the UN in 2000.
In a June 13, 2019 article in the pro-Hizbullah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, journalist Hassan 'Aliq condemned the Lebanese government for agreeing to hold talks with Israel with U.S. mediation, on the grounds that the U.S. under Trump is not a fair mediator but an enemy, so talks brokered by it will serve only the interests of Israel. Therefore, instead of holding talks about the disputed territories, he suggested to utilize the might of the resistance, or threaten to utilize it. For example, he proposed carrying out a "security move" to keep foreign drilling companies serving Israel from approaching Lebanon's territorial waters, and also to fire on Israeli forces constructing a fence in the disputed areas along the Israel-Lebanon land border. He decried the fact that Lebanon has discarded the option of resistance, which is the "obvious" one, in favor of talks, warning that this will serve only Israel, the U.S. and the U.S.-led "Deal of the Century."
The following are excerpts from his article:
"Since 1948, there has never been a closer match between the U.S. policy in the region and [the policy of] the Israeli enemy than there is today... This relationship resembles a father-son relationship more [than anything]. In this case the father wants to convey to the son that he cares for him more than anyone else does. In the Donald Trump era, the father has adopted the son's point of view, so that there is no difference [even] in the way each side presents their joint policy...
"The American enemy has never stuck as close to the Israeli enemy as it does today – [and] it is in these circumstances that Lebanon has agreed to U.S. mediation in negotiations with the enemy... We are therefore entering negotiations with the enemy with American mediation. Lebanon has chosen to regard the U.S. as a fair mediator. [But the fact is that] it has not been a fair mediator for five decades, and in the Trump era it cannot describe itself as a mediator [at all]... for it has shed the title of 'fair' to such an extent that [Palestinian President] Mahmoud 'Abbas now refuses to negotiate! [Yet we Lebanese] have chosen this moment in time to bestow the title of fair mediator upon Trump, for free, and have provided him, also for free, with a channel of negotiations that the Palestinian Authority and the Jordanian regime reject, as well as a separation between the Lebanese and Syrian channels. We are doing a favor to the ruler of the world's strongest country, on the grounds that U.S.-brokered negotiations with the Israeli enemy will validate our rights! What rights? The [rights to] a maritime area of 860 square kilometers, and 13 areas on land? These are Lebanese territories, and the enemy is seeking approval for occupying them.
"All [Lebanese] officials know that the [Israeli] enemy will not recognize our rights and that the 'fair mediator' will not force it to do so. Proof of this is [the fact] that the northern part of the village of Rajar, which the UN, the Security Council and the American enemy itself have all recognized as Lebanese territory, [has not been given back]. Why do we agree to negotiate before a 'gesture of goodwill' has been made, such as an [Israeli] retreat from northern Rajar, which... is Lebanese territory whose ownership is doubted by nobody? We could have played this card before agreeing to negotiations with the enemy brokered by another enemy, yet we completely neglected this card, as we have neglected other powerful cards.
"The reasoning of [those advocating] negotiations is that perpetuating the current situation allows the enemy to hold on to the disputed territories and the maritime area that has been stolen from Lebanon. [In other words,] the excuse [for negotiations] is that the failure to demarcate the maritime border enables the enemy to benefit from oil and gas in the sea while keeping Lebanon from drilling for fossil fuels. The answer to this excuse is that Lebanon's drilling operations will be carried out at a distance of 25 kilometers from the 'disputed' area; [furthermore,] suffice it to note that we have power that can be flaunted, namely the power of the resistance [Hizbullah], and we have the ability to force the enemy to keep away from our territory which it has turned into a 'disputed' area with the help of Lebanese mishandling [of the affair] and the [Israeli] alliance with Cyprus. To implement this, we only need [to carry out] a 'security move' in Lebanese territorial waters, as a clear message that will prevent foreign companies from approaching our [territorial] waters. The same goes for the areas on land. Ok, the enemy is building a fence in 'disputed' territory, so why doesn't the Higher Defense Council clearly instruct the Lebanese army to open fire on what the occupation army is constructing in those territories? The worrying point is that this option is the obvious one, yet it has been neglected, and nobody has told us why.
"Some will make the excuse that refusing to negotiate, and choosing the option of force or threatening to choose it, will perpetuate the status quo. Ok, so let the status quo remain and let the 'disputed areas' remain as they are. We can drill for oil and gas across the length and breadth of the sea to the north of the 'disputed' area. Maintaining the status quo is a thousand times better, by any standards, than providing our enemy, for nothing, with another card it intends to use against Palestine, Jordan and Syria in order to oil the wheels of the Deal of the Century... Before using it against Palestine, Jordan and Syria, [the enemy] wants to use [this card] against us, for Lebanon will pay the highest price for what Trump's nephew [Jared Kushner] is cooking up with [Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad] bin Salman."
 An Exclusive Economic Zone, as defined by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, is a sea zone stretching 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coast of a state in which that state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind. In case of a dispute over the demarcation of exclusive economic zones, the parties may appeal to an international court or an arbitral tribunal for its resolution (un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/unclos_e.pdf).
 Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 13, 2019.