|Source: As-Safir Daily, Israeli Media (Haaretz, Ynet)|
A new stage of the “war of oil” between Lebanon and the Zionist entity has started, as the Israeli government ratified on Sunday its so-called “maritime borders” without taking into consideration Lebanon’s rights.
At a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the lines delineated in a Lebanese proposal were significantly further south than those recognized by Israel and determined in previous deals.
“The lines declared by Lebanon contradict both the maritime border agreement signed by Israel and Cyprus, as well as the border agreement signed between Lebanon itself and Cyprus,” Netanyahu said.
Lebanon had earlier filed a document to the United Nations, in which it sent maps defining the Lebanese maritime borders.
Israeli daily Haaretz mentioned that Lebanon had submitted, last August, to the United Nations its version of where the maritime border should be - the exclusive economic zone. In November, it submitted its version of its western border, with Cyprus.
According to what was announced in “Israel”, the difference between the Lebanese and the Israeli delimitation, of their maritime borders with Cyprus, was 15 km, meaning that the disputed area between the two sides exceeded three thousand km².
However the real value of this area lies in the estimations that it is rich with oil and gas fields which are likely to be nested and worth billions of dollars.
“ISRAEL” TO SEND ITS MAPS TO UN
The Zionist entity is to echo the Lebanese proposal to the UN by sending a version of its “maritime borders” to the international organization, following endorsement.
"It's important to provide the UN with the Israeli version of the border as soon as possible, to react to Lebanon's unilateral move," a senior Foreign Ministry official told Haaretz.
“Israel” has become even more concerned about the positioning of the border after learning recently that Lebanon has assigned a Norwegian company to start searching for gas in the area.
The search is due to be completed within months, and the Lebanese government hopes to use the findings to license international energy companies to probe areas in its exclusive economic zone.
For his part, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Zionist entity would not “cede one centimeter”, adding that “Israel” has already concluded an agreement on this issue with Cyprus”.
“Lebanon, under pressure from Hezbollah, is looking for friction, but we will not give up any part of what is rightfully ours”, Lieberman said in a radio interview.
Furthermore, Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau said if Lebanese government has “complaints with nothing but goodwill and neighborly desire for coexistence, (it) must take steps just like any other civilized country – and hold clarifications and negotiations with us”.
Haaretz also said that “Israel” has asked the U.S. to warn Lebanon that it would not allow Beirut to “provoke” Tel Aviv or even to “hit Israel’s oil facilities”.
Commenting on Lieberman’s declaration, Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said that “Israel has usurped the land, and it’s almost possible to usurp the water. It always refers to its interests and not to the international law”.
Mansour also said that Lebanon has “friendly signed an agreement with Cyprus, taking in to consideration that the area between Naqoura and point 23 has not been decided yet”.
Mansour added that the agreement signed between the Zionist entity and Cyprus was against Lebanon’s benefit.
“However, when Cyprus and Israel delimited their maritime borders, the latter has enlarged its borders to the line, causing usurpation to 1500 km² from Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone”.
The Lebanese FM stressed that the Lebanese “will not abandon their rights”, noting that large companies for oil drilling “doesn’t work in the disputed areas”.
For his part, Minister of Energy, Gebran Bassil stressed that Lebanon has delimited its maritime borders based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
He called on the Zionist entity to sign this agreement, “or else to shut up before talking about international law”.
The energy minister also warned against any Israeli aggression on Lebanon's oil rights, adding that "if Israel wants to attack us, Hezbollah will not be the only party who will defend Lebanon, but all of the country, because Lebanese people don’t accept to abandon their oil or maritime rights".
On the other hand, Bassil, is expected to submit an official request to President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Najib Miqati to include the issue of the maritime borders at the top of next cabinet session's agenda.
On Saturday, Mansour discussed this issue with Cyprus Ambassador in Lebanon, who handed Mansour an official memorandum concerning the maritime borders.
The memo said that Cyprus “assure its intention to cooperate with Lebanon to conclude all the unresolved issues and to guarantee Lebanon’s rights”.
Mansour also drew the Cypriot ambassador’s attention that there are some points in the agreement, signed by Cyprus and the Zionist entity, that cause harm to Lebanon”.
The foreign minister added that the agreement should be put right through correcting the issue of the maritime area located between the point A and the point 23 on the map.
The Israeli position runs contrary to the way the UN and the U.S. would like to see the matter handled, since they would like to deal solely with the issue of the sea border.
The United States has earlier endorsed the Lebanese proposal. It also would analyze the Israeli proposal.
Haaretz quoted a senior official in U.S. President Barack Obama administration as saying that the U.S. intended to analyze the data on the line that “Israel” would present, along with UN experts, and examine ways in which they could assist in resolving the issue through negotiations.
"We found that the way in which it was drawn conformed to standards set forth by international law and map making. There is no single 'right' answer". The official said.
"The next step would be to analyze the Israeli submission and consult with both parties on potential ways forward. The goal is to avoid conflict and enable both countries to go full speed ahead in the generation of significant revenue," the official added.
Haaretz also said that it is the United States’ interest to maintain calm in this issue since it has economic interests through its companies that has been working on oil drilling in the maritime area between Lebanon, Cyprus and “Israel”.
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