Israel's Supreme Court on Sunday rejected petitions that would have held up a landmark U.S.-brokered deal setting a maritime border with Lebanon, which Washington predicted could be finalized on Thursday.
Four groups, including an Israeli opposition lawmaker, had asked the court to force the government - which is looking to fast-track the deal ahead of a Nov. 1 election - to instead hold a full vote in parliament.
The court's decision eliminates one of the last hurdles in Israel that could disrupt the deal. While limited in scope, the maritime deal marks a significant compromise between neighbors with a history of war and hostility, opening the way for offshore energy exploration and easing a source of recent tensions.
"I think this is really great development, a historic agreement between two enemy countries," the U.S. mediator, Amos Hochstein, told CBS's "Face the Nation."
"We are going to have a deal - hopefully sign it - this Thursday, and I hope this continues our commitment to stability and prosperity in the region for both countries." Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid would convene a special cabinet session on Thursday, his office said, without elaborating. There has been some opposition in Israel to how the government has handled the deal.
Lapid said his government's approval was sufficient, while the opposition said it must be ratified by parliament, especially during an election run-up. The agreement sets a border between Lebanese and Israeli waters for the first time and also establishes a mechanism for both countries to get royalties from TotalEnergies' exploration of an offshore gas field that straddles the boundary.
(Reuters - Reporting by Emily Rose and Joel Schectman; Editing by Alex Richardson and Toby Chopra)