Israel News, Tuesday, 31.01.2023
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Israel-Lebanon maritime deal is as big as the Abraham Accords
The agreement eclipses the Abraham Accords in one important way ■ The untold story of Sigmund Freud’s obscure niece ■ A great Israeli TV show finally gets a global release ■ Why Israel must learn to live without massive American military aid ■ Today's best reads on Haaretz
Amir Tibon   Amir Tibon
A Hezbollah drone launched towards Karish, earlier this year.
The maritime border agreement between Israel and Lebanon, which was officially published on Tuesday, is not a celebratory peace deal. There won’t be a fancy signing ceremony on the White House lawn, and the deal’s final approval is still far from promised due to legal and political obstacles on both sides.

But the agreement, if it survives the challenges ahead, is still a major achievement for the Biden administration, who invested heavily in the negotiations. In fact, one can reasonably argue that it's as big of a deal as the Abraham Accords – the most important diplomatic achievement of Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump.

The Abraham Accords created an atmosphere of peace between Israel and several countries in the region, most notably the United Arab Emirates. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi since the accords were signed two years ago. As a bonus, the signing of the accords also helped stop Benjamin Netanyahu from moving forward with his reckless plan to annex all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. It was a big win for everyone involved.

The Israel-Lebanon deal won’t create the same talk of a new Middle East where Jews and Arabs can now be friends and business partners. Israeli tourists won’t be boarding direct flights to Beirut this winter. But the deal does eclipse the Abraham Accords in one important way: it could actually prevent a catastrophic war.

The Abraham Accords, for all the optimism and economic benefits they created, did not save the life of one Israeli soldier. After all, Israel had never gone to war with Bahrain, the UAE or Morocco. The Lebanon deal mediated by Biden’s point man, Amos Hochstein, on the other hand, has the potential to avert a disastrous confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah.

Such a war would play out very differently than Israel’s periodic clashes with Hamas in Gaza: Conservative estimates include tens of thousands of rockets falling on Israeli cities, hundreds of casualties, and widespread destruction. If the agreement holds, this nightmare scenario will be prevented. It doesn’t mean peace will blossom between Israel and Lebanon, but securing quiet on Israel’s northern border is more important at the moment.

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