Lebanon hopes that demarcating maritime borders will pave the way for gas exploration to help lift it out of its crippling economic crisis.

Lebanon and Israel both claim around 860 square kilometres of the Mediterranean Sea that are home to offshore gas fields.
Lebanon and Israel both claim around 860 square kilometres of the Mediterranean Sea that are home to offshore gas fields. (AFP)

Lebanon has signed a maritime border deal with Israel, a US-brokered agreement that paves the way for lucrative offshore gas extraction by the neighbours.

Deputy Speaker and chief Lebanese negotiator Elias Bou Saab told a press conference on Thursday that President Michel Aoun signed a letter relating to the demarcation of Lebanon's southern maritime boundary.

He added that a Lebanese delegation will hand US mediator Amos Hochstein the letter signed by Aoun at UN headquarters in southern Lebanon.

He also said another letter will be sent to the UN by the Foreign Ministry.

READ MORE: Lebanon suggests changes to maritime border deal with Israel

'Political achievement'

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, for his part, hailed the deal as a “political achievement” for his country.

"The maritime deal is a political achievement for Israel as we don't see an enemy state like Lebanon recognizing Israel in a written agreement every day," he said on his official Twitter account.

He said the deal strengthens Tel Aviv's "security and freedom to take action against Hezbollah."

The Israeli government also ratified the deal, according to an official statement by the Prime Minister's Office.

On October 13, Aoun and Lapid announced they were accepting the US-mediated proposal for the maritime border demarcation.

Israel and Lebanon have been locked in a dispute over a maritime area of 860 square kilometres rich in gas and oil, according to maps sent by both countries to the UN in 2011.

Negotiations over the territory in the Mediterranean Sea, which contain part of the Karish gas field and Qana, a prospective gas field, have been ongoing since 2020.

READ MORE: Lebanon endorses maritime border deal with Israel

Source: AA