Lebanon has warned Israel it is “playing with fire”
by staking out energy claims in the Mediterranean Sea, where Beirut says Israel’s discoveries are in its territory.
The Israeli Cabinet, heading off another dispute similar to the Sheba Farms land dispute at the northern border, approved a “marine economic zone proposal” Sunday
after Lebanon presented maps to the United Nations, marking maritime borders that would include part of the giant Leviathan and Tamar fields. The United Nations previously has refused to take responsibility for marking the maritime borders.
The Lebanese daily As-Safir, in an article under the headline “War of Oil: Another Phase of Israeli Offense,”
reported that Lebanese Minister of Energy and Water Joubran Bassil said Israel “is playing with fire “by violating Lebanon’s maritime border and oil rights.”
He added, “Obviously we will prevent any violation. However, in case of violation, Israel will not be the only damaged part, but also large companies that cooperate with it. We, in Lebanon, respect the rights of others, and we don’t want to violate the rights of others, but at the same time, we do not want someone to attack us. Lebanon will not give up its rights or its borders”
Israeli firms discovered the gas fields, which also are believed to hold large commercially viable oil deposits, two years ago. Afterwards, Lebanon said the discoveries are in its territory, and it recently has announced that a Norwegian company will start a seismic research offshore.
Hizbullah, with its eyes on the rich reserves, previously has threatened that Israel is risking war by planning to “steal” its offshore energy reserves.