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Israel’s Yair Lapid condemns Hezbollah in first cabinet meeting as PM

Israel’s Yair Lapid condemns Hezbollah in first cabinet meeting as PM

Israel’s Yair Lapid condemns Hezbollah in first cabinet meeting as PM

Israel’s Yair Lapid condemns Hezbollah in first cabinet meeting as PM

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  • Israel says it intercepted three drones launched by Hezbollah.
  • The drones were headed towards an offshore gas field in the Mediterranean.
  • The area is subject of ongoing US-mediated maritime talks.
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Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid accused Hezbollah of undermining Lebanon’s efforts to reach an agreement on their disputed energy-rich maritime border, On the eve of his first cabinet meeting.

Lapid, who is still Israel’s foreign minister, took over as prime minister on Friday from Naftali Bennett, his coalition partner in the now-defunct eight-party coalition.

On Saturday, Israel’s army said it had intercepted three drones launched by Hezbollah that were headed towards an offshore gas field in the Mediterranean, near a disputed area that is the subject of US-mediated maritime talks.

“Hezbollah is continuing on the path of terrorism and is hurting Lebanon’s ability to reach an agreement on a maritime border,” Lapid said.

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement confirmed it had launched drones towards the Mediterranean’s Karish gas field.

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Israel said the drones, which were not armed, were downed by a fighter jet and missiles launched from a warship as they headed towards the offshore area.

Israel and previous United Nations maps put Karish within Israel’s maritime borders, and not in the disputed area subject to ongoing negotiations.

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But Lebanon last month condemned Israel when a vessel chartered by Israel and operated by London-listed Greek energy firm Energean entered the Karish field.

Hezbollah at the time warned Energean against proceeding with its activities.

Lebanon and Israel resumed negotiations on their maritime border in 2020, but the process was stalled by Beirut’s claim that the map used by the UN in the talks needed modifying.

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Lebanon initially demanded 860 square kilometres (330 square miles) of waters it said were under dispute, but then asked for an additional 1,430 square kilometres (552 square miles), including part of the Karish field.

Rising tensions with Lebanon are among a growing list of foreign challenges facing Lapid, who will serve as a caretaker premier until elections set for November 1, Israel’s fifth vote in less than four years.

He is scheduled to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris this week as world powers renew efforts to restore a nuclear agreement with Iran, which Israel opposes.

US Vice President Joe Biden is also scheduled to visit Israel later this month, marking his first visit to the Jewish state since taking office.

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