US, Lebanon Confirm Maritime Agreement Guaranteed Despite Netanyahu Victory According to Reuters, “Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati on Wednesday said that U.S. guarantees would protect a maritime border deal with Israel should Israel’s conservative former premier Benjamin Netanyahu win a majority in elections.” Mikati said, “We’re not afraid of a change in the authorities in Israel. Whether Netanyahu wins or someone else, no one can stand in the way of this (deal).” [Reuters]
Two Depositors Hold Up Bank in Hazmieh According to L’Orient Today, “At least five people — including two depositors, one of whom was armed — infiltrated Crédit Libanais’ Hazmieh branch on Wednesday to demand the return of one of their group’s deposited funds, according to live images broadcasted on social media by the Spotshot news platform.” [L’Orient Today]
Arab League Urges Lebanon to Implement Reforms, Elect President At the Arab League’s closing during its summit in Algiers, the multilateral body urged the Lebanese parliament to elect a new president of the republic aswell as to implement necessary reforms. [L’Orient Today]
Roof Collapses at Tripoli Public School, Teenage Student Dies According to Naharnet, A 16 years old schoolgirl died Wednesday after the ceiling of her classroom collapsed at a public school in Tripoli . . . Protestors blocked the road in Jabal Mehsen accusing the authorities of neglect.” [Naharnet]
OPINION & ANALYSIS
L’Orient Today Amid The Cholera Outbreak, Lebanon’s Municipalities Shoulder The Burden Mohamed El ChamaaEl Chamaa writes, “As Lebanon grapples with its first cholera outbreak since 1993, municipalities say they are bearing most of the financial and medical burden. This is especially true in the northern governorate of Akkar, where the vast majority of the country’s 400 confirmed cases are located . . . Lebanon’s municipalities are overstretched amid an unprecedented economic crisis that has slashed budgets, decimated the value of the Lebanese lira and limited their resources. Municipal authorities are now struggling to tackle the additional pressure of cholera. Their limited resources stem from the way municipalities are structured. According to Mona Harb, a professor of urban studies and politics at the American University of Beirut, city governments can only earn revenue through a few direct streams, such as issuing building permits and collecting municipal taxes . . . Indeed, many of the Akkar towns visited by L’Orient Today in recent days to observe the cholera response were low-income and low-density. Buildings are no more than three to four stories tall and there is little ongoing construction, which would generate the kind of income municipalities need to collect from building permits. Other sources of revenue include transfers from the state through the Independent Municipal Fund, an intergovernmental grant system funded through eleven taxes and fees collected by the Finance Ministry. However, this payment is delivered, on average, every three years instead of annually. Additionally, overall revenue is barely enough to cover administrative costs, let alone public services and, now, a cholera outbreak.”
Al Monitor Will Israel’s Netanyahu Upend Lebanon Gas Deal, Iran Policy? Ben CaspitCaspit writes, “As of this writing some 15 hours after the polls closed, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have won Israel’s Nov. 1 elections and is set to make a dramatic comeback as prime minister, just 18 months after being ousted by the previous balloting. With a majority of votes counted, the one remaining uncertainty is the survival of the leftist Meretz party, which is teetering on the electoral threshold. If the final tally gets Meretz into the Knesset, Netanyahu’s solid majority will drop from the currently projected 65 seats in the 120-member chamber to 62 or 61, the minimal majority he needs to form a government. Such a slim majority would make running the affairs of state a nightmare even for such an accomplished politician as Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving premier . . . Let us begin with the Lebanon gas agreement, which Netanyahu is unlikely to actually overturn. Regardless of his statements impugning the legitimacy of the deal and his conduct since his 2019 corruption indictment and amid his ongoing trial, Netanyahu’s geopolitical understanding remains keen. Netanyahu clearly knows the agreement is good for Israel. He realizes that abrogating it would harm Israel’s national security, its economic interests, the future of its Mediterranean gas exploration and its credibility. Netanyahu is also aware of the potential backlash from Washington should he damage the agreement that the Biden administration worked so hard to mediate. He will probably criticize the agreement and talk about improving it, but he will not rescind it.”
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.