Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday took aim at the US mediator in Lebanon's maritime border dispute with Israel, calling Amos Hochstein "dishonest and compromised and supportive towards Israel", i24NEWS reported.
Nasrallah was speaking via videolink to supporters of the group at two rallies in Sour and Nabatieh ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for May 15.
Nasrallah touted Lebanon’s natural gas reserves as a potential game changer for Lebanon's economy, while warning that “negotiating with Hochstein would not lead to any good outcome.”
Directly addressing the Lebanese government involved in the maritime border talks, Nasrallah said that "if you want to continue negotiating, go ahead, but not in Naqoura (the UNIFIL site in southern Lebanon hosting the talks), and not with Hochstein, Frankenstein, or any other Stein coming to Lebanon."
US President Joe Biden tapped the Israeli-born Hochstein to take over as mediator in US-sponsored talks between Israel and Lebanon to resolve a maritime border dispute over natural gas exploration.
In 2021, official discussions commenced between representatives of Israel and Lebanon, with the aim of reaching an agreement on their maritime border.
There have been major natural gas discoveries off the coasts of both countries during the last decade, and the border dispute has halted gas exploration in an area that has attracted the interest of US energy companies.
The talks were initiated after Lebanon signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas off its coast with a consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek, including in a block disputed by Israel.
Israel says one of two blocks in the eastern Mediterranean where Lebanon wants to drill for oil belongs to it, and had denounced any exploration by Beirut as "provocative".
In February, Hochstein said that he was "optimistic" that both sides were moving toward a deal.