Friday, 31 December 2010

Israel’s Discovery of Natural Gas Threatens Lebanon’s Rights!

Israel’s Discovery of Natural Gas Threatens Lebanon’s Rights!

30/12/2010 At the time gas prices are surging in Lebanon and the Lebanese people are suffering from this confusing phenomenon, and at the time the Lebanese treasury deficit nears $2.03 billion, the largest reserve of natural gas, over 16 trillion cubic feet, has been discovered off the coast of the occupied territories, and is estimated to be worth more than $95 billion.

The reserve, Leviathon, is the largest amount of natural gas discovered in the world in the last decade and is located in approximately 5,400 feet (1,645 meters) of water, about 130 kilometers offshore of Haifa and 29 miles (47 kilometers) southwest of the Tamar discovery.

Hezbollah had blared warnings months ago that Israel plans to steal natural gas from Lebanese territory but vowed to defend the resources. Israel’s fields could extend into Lebanese waters while the maritime boundary, still officially at war, has never been precisely set. The warnings from Hezbollah and Lebanon Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri aimed to press for the passage of a long-delayed draft oil law, needed before any Lebanese fields can be developed, but yet no decrees for the implementation of the oil law was adopted.

This is while some officials in our government are still undermining Lebanon’s national wealth which would save the nation from deficits and economical crisis.

High-ranking Lebanese army officials accused the United Nations and UNIFIL of dereliction in delineating Lebanon's maritime borders with Israel. The sources told As-Safir daily that the Lebanese government handed over maps and documents on the delineation of the border to the U.N., which hasn't made a single move.

The U.N. "should have asked Israel to hand it over its maps and documents so that it launches a scientific study and play the role of the arbitrator," they said in remarks published Thursday. They said the U.N. and UNIFIL are throwing the ball in each others courts. "If the failure (to find a solution) was the result of neglect, then this is a disaster and if it stemmed from conspiracy with the Israeli enemy then this is bigger disaster."

"How are UNIFIL naval forces carrying out their mission without a clear borderline that separates Lebanese and occupied Palestinian territorial waters?" the officials asked.

In the meantime, Speaker Nabih Berri told the paper that Lebanon should immediately issue decrees for the implementation of the oil law adopted by parliament and pressure the U.N. to delineate the country's sea borders with “Israel”.

Berri urged the Lebanese government to study the Israel-Cyprus agreement that defines their sea border and allows the neighbors to forge ahead in the search for energy sources in the eastern Mediterranean.

The speaker made his advice for fears that the deal could violate Lebanon's rights. He also told As Safir newspaper that a specialized company should immediately start operations to explore oil in Lebanese waters. He unveiled that the CEO of the Italian Enny company has informed him that an oil field in Lebanese territorial waters valued 76 billion dollars. "This number is enough to solve the economic problem and even contribute to building the defense strategy," Berri told As Safir.

He also criticized some Lebanese officials for doubting such information during a National Dialogue session at Baabda palace.

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt urged the Lebanese government to file a complaint with the U.N. if Israel seizes natural gas from Lebanese territorial waters. Jumblatt told As Safir that any Israeli attempt to explore oil from disputed sea areas is a clear violation of all agreements and international resolutions.

For his part, head of the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Mohammed Raad told As-Safir that Lebanese officials should mobilize all efforts to start exploration of gas fields in Lebanese territorial waters.

"History will not have mercy on those procrastinating to explore national wealth," Raad said. "Future generations will judge this procrastination." The officials should cross the bureaucratic barriers and immediately start gas exploration "because this is a national challenge that we should succeed in" confronting, he said.

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