Premiership Says Aoun Flouted Constitution in Naming Border Talks Team

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The Premiership said Monday that President Michel Aoun made a “clear and blatant violation of a constitutional text” by not coordinating with caretaker PM Hassan Diab in the formation of the team that will handle negotiations over maritime border demarcation with Israel.

Noting that Article 52 of the Constitution stipulates that the president should coordinate with the premier when negotiating over international treaties, the Premiership pointed out that it had communicated several times with the Directorate General of the Presidency with the aim of “committing to the aforementioned constitutional texts, seeing as this negotiating issue is considered a sovereign issue.”

“Accordingly, negotiating and tasking (a team) with negotiating should happen through a common agreement between the president and the premier… and any different approach represents a clear and blatant violation of a constitutional text,” the Premiership added.

Aoun’s office had earlier announced that the four-member Lebanese delegation will be headed by air force Brig. Gen. Bassam Yassin. The three other members are navy Col. Mazen Basbous, Lebanese oil official Wissam Chbat and border expert Najib Massihi.

The announcement comes two weeks after Lebanon and Israel reached an agreement on a framework for the U.S.-mediated talks. The talks are scheduled to begin Wednesday at the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura.

Israel and Lebanon have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war. They each claim about 860 square kilometers of the Mediterranean Sea as within their own exclusive economic zones.

Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz will lead the Israeli delegation, according to Israeli officials.

Lebanese officials have made sure to send a team of experts to show that this week’s talks with Israel are purely technical and don’t mean any kind of normalization between the two countries.

SourceNaharnet

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