Weekly Commentary: Legal Experts Downplay Significance of Status Quo
Standing of Buoy Line
Dr. Aaron Lerner 14 October 2022
Quote: Until such time this area is delimited, the Parties agree that the
status quo near the shore, including along and as defined by the current
buoy line, remains the same, notwithstanding the differing legal positions
of the Parties in this area, which remains undelimited.
When I read this sentence I was not quite sure how significant an
achievement it was for Israel.
I thought, for example, that it meant that while Hezbullah can execute
operations in that area (the status quo is that they try to attack us) that
Lebanon forfeits the right to apply to international forums to try and have
us withdraw from the current buoy line.
So I turned to two experts.
No. I didn't ask someone in the military. I did not contact someone in the
Mossad. I basically did not contact any of the officials from branches
which apparently participated in the meeting of the Security Cabinet to
discuss the gas deal with Lebanon.
Instead I turned to two top Israeli experts in international law who have
many years of diplomatic experience.
I was wrong.
I sense that you’re reading too much into the term "status quo".
As I understand it, it merely means that those buoys that have for years
marked the edge of Israel’s security and political jurisdiction will simply
remain in place.
Literally "status quo".
Nothing more, nothing less.
The other replied:
What the agreement says about status quo is this: it says the status quo in
the relevant line "remains the same ... notwithstanding the differing legal
positions of the Parties in this area ..."
This means that both parties agree that the status quo is status quo and
that Lebanon does not accept any of Israel's claims. In other words, the
language is circular and means nothing.
The agreement does not commit Lebanon to avoid "apply[ing] to international
forums" or to anything else regarding this area.
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