Hochstein: Lebanese ruling leadership obstructs reforms

Middle East
2022-12-12 | 08:45
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Hochstein: Lebanese ruling leadership obstructs reforms
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Hochstein: Lebanese ruling leadership obstructs reforms
US Senior Advisor for Global Energy Security Amos Hochstein confirmed on Monday that the delay in gas and electricity supplies from Egypt and Jordan is caused by the Lebanese government's failure to carry out the simple reforms required by the World Bank, which is supposed to finance the project.

Hochstein's comments were made during an interview with Annahar Al Arabi, whereby he expected that the work on producing gas from Block 9 would take three or four years, considering that the maritime border demarcation agreement between Lebanon and Israel has become a fait accompli. He added that there are no indications from Israel of the possibility of its cancellation.

He went on to say that there was support from big organizations to make sure that the pipelines and infrastructure for the passage of this gas were functioning and the Lebanese part of it was damaged. It was repaired and ready for work, and receiving gas immediately. However, Lebanon must implement its commitment to reforms.

Hochstein pointed out that when Lebanon implements the reforms, the World Bank can provide a loan because this gas is not for free.

"The US is trying to help Lebanon in this regard and to make sure that it is done in a way that does not violate US sanctions," Hochstein explained.

"The more time passes, the more people suffer, and the costs increase. This is defective because it was possible to complete this within eight weeks. After that, it was possible to increase the quantities of gas and increase electricity through interconnection with Jordan," he stressed.

Hochstein said that "much can be accomplished in this sector, but as long as the ruling leadership in Lebanon obstructs reforms, even the slightest work cannot be done," adding that "Lebanon can complain about the World Bank, the US, or others, but it must do what is required of it."

"However, I hope that a president would be elected and a government would be formed in Lebanon, not only for demarcating the borders but rather for the interest of Lebanon," Hochstein said.

Land border demarcation

He underlined that "the demarcation of the border between Lebanon and Israel is not the sole solution to all matters; there is something that the government must do to solve the economic crisis and the energy problem in Lebanon."

Hochstein also mentioned that the demarcation of the land borders between Israel and Lebanon is possible, but under different circumstances then they are in reality.

He elaborated that what they have done regarding maritime border demarcation does not indicate the possibility of successful demarcation of the land borders, adding that he already insisted on separating them so that the issues of one would not affect the other.

"The success of the maritime border demarcation indicates that when we think creatively and put for each side its gains and losses, we can find solutions," Hochstein noted, saying that "he does not know if the time now is appropriate. Of course, it is better when there is a president and government in Lebanon, just as the situation in Israel is, so we should wait."

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