Published On: Thu, Mar 23rd, 2017

Lebanon Warns: Israel’s Annexion of Maritime Zone Means War

Lebanese parliament spoker Nabih Berri stressed that Israel's proposed law is a trigger to a new war, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday.

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Lebanon Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri stressed that Israel’s maritime border zone proposed law to trigger a new war, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday.

Earlier this week Israel decided to annex a 860 square kilometers maritime border territory of which Lebanon also claims ownership. The bill is aimed to claim Israel’s sovereignty over the area, mainly for the purpose of harvesting natural resources like oil and gas.

The decision comes after years of efforts by the United States and the United Nations to mediate between Israel and Lebanon.

Berri voiced warnings and said “This is a new assault by Israel on Lebanese sovereignty. What has been revealed by Israeli media was not arbitrary, but rather reveals a path taken by Israel in a bid to control Lebanon’s gas and oil wealth within Lebanese economic borders.”

“I have always voiced warning against arriving at such a reality,” Berri added, “someone is responsible for placing the 860 square kilometers in the Israeli circle.”

“Anyway, if the Israeli disposition is correct, which I tend to believe, it is tantamount to a war sparked by Israel. It is another maritime Shebaa Farms Conflict which opens the situation to many dangerous possibilities,” He concluded.

Israel Sets to Annex Disputed Maritime Border Area With Lebanon

In January, after more than two years of political deadlock, the Lebanese government has approved tenders for gas and oil exploration licenses for five offshore Lebanon’s coast, three of which are in areas overlapping waters disputed with Israel.

The decrees authorize regulators to divide the offshore areas into blocks for drilling and exploration and to issue tenders.

Lebanon believes that its economic waters contain 850 million barrels of oil and no less than 2,700 BCM of natural gas, similar to Israel’s potential, including the fields that have already been discovered. A tender process it began in 2013 but never came to fruition attracted 52 oil and gas companies, according to Globes.

Israeli Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz said at the Cerweek Conference in Houston: “In early February, we sent an official letter to the UN expressing our protest about the actions by Lebanon, which published a tender for its marine economic waters that extended into the edge of Israel’s economic waters. Israel will maintain its rights, but is open to a dialogue in this context.”

Hizbullah has repeatedly warned Israel against any move regarding Lebanon’s gas reserves

 

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