Expert: 'Hezbollah now overrides Israel's democracy'
Prof. Eugene Kontorovich slams maritime agreement with Lebanon, says reason Israeli gov't claims agreement must be now is to avoid war
Gas rig in the Mediterranean
Professor Eugene Kontorovich on Tuesday slammed the agreement with Lebanon, saying that the Hezbollah terror group is now overriding Israel's democracy.
Prof. Kontorovich is an expert on International Maritime Law and Director of International Law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum which petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court against the maritime deal with Lebanon.
"The agreement to cede territory to Lebanon certainly involves territory Israel has claimed as its sovereign territory," Prof. Kontorovich said. "This is the first time Israel has ceded territory over which it has declared sovereignty (unlike Sinai, Gaza, etc). This is the first time an Israeli government gives away territory without the support of the Knesset, and the first time a minority government does so."
"Transferring any national territory requires Knesset approval in Israeli law, as well as the constitutions of countries from the US to Egypt. The reason the government claims it must do this now, before elections or a Knesset vote, is that this is Hezbollah's demand to prevent war.
"This means Hezbollah now overrides Israel's democracy."
The emerging maritime boundary deal between Israel and Lebanon, brokered by the Biden administration, constitutes a “total capitulation” to the terrorist organization Hezbollah, a senior jurist argued Sunday, adding that the Lapid government is violating Israeli constitutional rules by pursuing an agreement.
Eugene Kontorovich, Director of International Law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum and director of the Center for the Middle East & International Law at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School, blasted Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s cabinet address Sunday, in which he confirmed that Israel has made concessions in US-brokered maritime border talks with Lebanon.
"Over the weekend, Israel and Lebanon received the American mediator's proposal for an agreement on a maritime line between the two countries. We are discussing the final details, so it is not yet possible to praise a done deal; however, as we have demanded from the start, the proposal safeguards Israel's full security-diplomatic interests, as well as our economic interests," Lapid said.
Lapid argued that ceding natural gas reserves to Lebanon would help the country become independent of Tehran, and ultimately curb the strength of groups like Hezbollah.
Kontorovich pushed back on Lapid’s claims, calling the concessions “capitulation” to Hezbollah, and arguing that pursuing such an agreement during an interim government violates Israeli constitutional norms.
“The proposed natural gas agreement between Israel and Lebanon represents a total capitulation to Hezbollah, and a transfer of sovereign Israeli territory to an Iranian puppet state.”
“As the people of Iran fight for their freedom, Israel is surrendering to Tehran via Beirut without even getting an acknowledgement of its existence in return, let alone peace.”
“After being proposed and rejected a decade ago, the deal is being rammed through, just weeks before the Israeli elections - in violation of Israeli constitutional rules - because the Biden Administration and Hezbollah understand the desperation and weakness of the Lapid-Bennett government.”
Right-wing lawmakers also slammed the planned concessions, with Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu calling any deal during the government’s lame duck session “illegal”.
"If this illegal move goes through, it will not bind us."
Texas Senator Ted Cruz expressed concern over the emerging deal, after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah hailed Israeli concessions as a sign of Lebanese victory.
“I am deeply troubled that Biden officials pressured our Israeli allies to hand over their territory to the Iran-controlled terrorist group Hezbollah,” Cruz tweeted. “Another topic for the next Republican Congress to investigate.”