It has been a long time since good news came from the Middle East. The news that Israel and Lebanon have reached an agreement on their sea borders is finally a positive signal again. And at a neuralgic point where good news is particularly urgently needed.
First, the agreement indicates that actors in the region are acting in a future-oriented manner. Because with the agreement on sea borders, conflict-free use of the natural gas deposits along their coasts is possible for both countries and their partners. Over the next few years, this perspective could help solve not only the financial problems but also the energy problems of those involved. Europe, which will remain dependent on alternative energy suppliers, could also benefit from this in the long term.
The agreement is all the more remarkable, however, as it is ultimately two mortal enemies who have come to a common denominator here. The Lebanese Hezbollah militia has officially declared that it will support any government decision on the maritime border issue. In truth, however, it is well known that it is the Lebanese government that cannot act on this, as on many other issues, without Hezbollah's approval.
Most recently, the heavily armed militia even threatened an attack on Israel because of the maritime border dispute. And Iran-sponsored Hezbollah is perhaps the most important opponent of the Jewish state right now. For example, should Jerusalem decide to use air strikes to stop Iran's nuclear program, Iran's strongest response would be an attack by Hezbollah. Their missiles near the Israeli border could pose a serious problem for Israel's defense. Such a war is likely to affect many other countries in the Middle East.
That is why the region has been spellbound for years at the balance of power between these two actors and at possible reasons for war between them. If one of them falls away, then that at least shows that there may still be alternatives to the really big confrontation. For example, because Hezbollah puts the well-being of its own country more important than Tehran's strategic interests. The agreement is an indication of this, but unfortunately it is not yet proof of a trend reversal. Because both in terms of the nuclear program and within Lebanon, the signs continue to point to conflict.