Israel's top court rejects appeals against Lebanon maritime deal
Israel's Supreme Court rejected four petitions on Sunday filed against a US-mediated maritime border deal with Lebanon, paving the way for the agreement to be signed in the coming days.
Four appeals, including one from far-right Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir, called on the country's highest court to force the government to hold a full vote on the deal in the Knesset.
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Earlier this month, an "historic" agreement was reached between Israel and Lebanon, demarcating a disputed maritime border in the Mediterranean, allowing both sides to capitalise on potential gas discoveries vital for their economies.
The neighbouring countries, who have historically fought several wars with each other, established a mechanism for both to receive royalties from exploration by French company TotalEnergies of a gas field straddling the maritime boundary.
With Israel set for a general election on 1 November, Prime Minister Yair Lapid's caretaker government has attempted to fast track the deal.
Petitioners to the court argued that the government had exceeded its authority by approving the deal, claiming that it must be voted for in parliament or put to a referendum.
But on Sunday, the Supreme Court ruled that Israeli regulations did not require the cabinet to present all international agreements to the Knesset.
"According to the regulations, there are cases in which the cabinet can use its discretion and not even inform the Knesset about communications, if an agreement is secret," said Supreme Court President Esther Hayut.
"The question, in this case, is whether the cabinet examined all the relevant aspects and concluded that the agreement could be brought before the Knesset without a vote, which is a reasonable course of action."
Minister of Defence Benny Gantz welcomed the court's ruling, describing the timing of the deal close to elections as "not desirable but necessary".
The Lavi Organisation, one of the appealing parties, said: "[The decision] allows a caretaker government, in its final moments, to agree to a deal that is a surrender to Hezbollah and endangers the security of Israel."
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