Exclusive: Inside the negotiations between Israel and Lebanon on the delineation of the maritime border

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Eat News conducted an exclusive interview with Malek Francis who’s an engineer, and a political expert, and activist dedicated to peace, human rights, equality and democracy. He serves as Chairperson of the American Lebanese Congress, President of the American Lebanese Syrian Association, and founder of the American Lebanese Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Also Mr. Francis’ other affiliations include the Pittsburgh Ethnic Coalition, the Interfaith Mission of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and Uniontown Ambassador of Goodwill. He has served and continues to serve on boards of directors for various organizations.

He was born in Sidon, Lebanon, and graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Civil Engineering. Malek is an experienced chairperson with a demonstrated history of working in political organizations. He has strong business development skills and significant experience with nonprofit organizations, negotiation, analysis, and highway operation and management.

According to the official website of Malek Francis, he is not a politician but a public servant who served as a Civil Engineer Manager at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for more than 33 years. He is known for fighting waste and corruption at the Department and will continue his fight in order to save hundreds of millions of our tax dollars and to make our highways safer.

He decided to run for the State House of Pennsylvania in 2020, because he is very disappointed with ineffective politicians and government officials.

As a political expert, he shares his expertise in the media, including appearances in local and international newspapers, on television and radio, and at colleges, high schools, civic organizations, and religious groups. He has convened and chaired various conferences on peace, disarmament, human rights, and discrimination.

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Negociations and Gameover

According to the Interview with Malek Francis, Chairman of the American Lebanese Congress regarding negotiations between Israel and Lebanon to delimit the maritime border. He said that Lebanon and Israel began talks in mid-October for the demarcation of their maritime borders. Apart from monthly contacts between officers on both sides (arranged by UNIFIL), this is the first time that representatives of the two countries have come face to face since 1983. What are the stakes of these discussions?

Unfortunately, former President Donald Trump hoped he could add the failed Israeli -Lebanese agreement to his CV before the general election that was held on November 3rd. He believed that it may help him get the majority of the Jewish votes.

Regarding the timing, why are these discussions opening now, Malek Francis said that The Trump administration thought an agreement between Israel and Lebanon may help his re-election. Discussions had started well, but are now suspended. Because Donald Trump lost his re-election and the Israelis were not serious about solving the problem. “However, US envoy David Schenker tried to send a false impression to the world that Israel is on the path of signing a peace treaty with Lebanon and to support President Donald Trump’s election. Also, the US has a goal to help Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is facing corruption charges”, Malek Francis said.

The journalist further asked, “So, You mentioned Amal’s ally, the Lebanese Hezbollah: the group was for a long time the leader of the opposition to any form of discussion with the Hebrew state. How does he position himself today on negotiations with the Israelis?” Malik francis said that Amal and Hezbollah are looking forward to obtain a percentage of the money that would be generated from the sale of the natural gas that exists within the Lebanese territory.

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When the reporter asked, “As you have just mentioned the issue of normalization between these two countries (Lebanon and Israel are still at war). Many observers have indicated that these negotiations were a first step towards the recognition of Israel by Lebanon. What do you think?” Malik Francis said, “Wrong! As long as Iran and it’s proxy, Hezbollah , control Lebanon, and all its institutions, the Lebanese government is prohibited from recognizing Israel.”

But, The French Foreign Minister, Yves Le Drian, has stated that Lebanon will disappear if there is no process of reform and change in it. “In my opinion, the only solution for Lebanon is by prosecuting corrupt Lebanese politicians and holding them accountable for all the problems that they caused Lebanon and her people”, Malik Francis said.

An during the conversation I ask Malik Francis about the success of French initiative, especially since the deadline given by President Emanuel Macron is not sufficient to achieve all these requirements? He said that The French Initiative is dead on arrival because the Lebanese people have no faith in their government and public officials. President Macron cannot force his own initiative on Lebanon. Also, he must get the green light from all the foreign nations involved in the Lebanese Crisis.

In conclusion, what Malik Francis is expected from Joe Biden’s policy toward Lebanon, especially since the Lebanese file is based on the results and merits of the Iranian-American negotiations concerning the nuclear deal? “Is that Lebanon is not important to President Biden. He may award it to Iran as a gift if an amended or new nuclear deal is reached by the US and Iran”, Malik Francis said.

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By

Ornella Sukkar is a Lebanese journalist specialized in Arab-Islamic and radicalization studies from an oriental perspective and international affaires.

By

Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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