Amos Hochstein in Beirut: pursuing efforts to settle the maritime border dispute


Special Envoy and Coordinator for international Energy Affairs at the U.S. State Department Amos Hochstein visited Lebanon on May 26, 2016, less than a year after his last visit to Beirut, in July 2015.

The U.S. Special Envoy held meetings with Speaker Nabih Berri, PM Tammam Salam, former PM Saad Hariri, Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil and Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian, in addition to U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag.

The visit comes a month after U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s visit to Lebanon, during which he held talks with Speaker Berri and PM Salam and addressed the maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel. Beirut filed an official request to the U.N. to contribute to settling the dispute and demarcating the border. The U.N. has for long been hesitant but the Lebanese side does not despair of getting the international organization on board. The Israelis however do not seem to share the same enthusiasm.

In this 1089-word report, reserved for its clients, MESP offers an on-the-spot assessment of the visit, latest U.S. and U.N. efforts and how they were received by various Lebanese circles. We then move on to exploring the perspectives of unlocking the situation if the current political stalemate in the country is gradually overcome (involving progress on the presidential election or parliamentary elections or a more favorable regional context etc.). As we have done previously, we also evaluate Hochstein’s communications strategy, and its impact on his diplomatic efforts. The U.S. envoy was the keynote speaker at the oil & gas forum organized by the Forum for National Dialogue (A Makhzoumi Initiative) on May 26 at the Ecole Supérieure des Affaires, and broadcast live on TV. As we have mentioned in our report a year ago following Hochstein’s July 2015 visit to Beirut, the strategy is dynamic, has a wide reach, but its success can only be measured by its contribution to achieving previously set goals.