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‘Israel’ yields to Lebanon’s maritime demands as Hezbollah-set deadline approaches: Report

Israel has reportedly yielded to Lebanon’s full maritime demands over the disputed waters and gas fields, asking the Arab country for extra time to finalize a deal.

According to a report by Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar on August 19, the regime sent a message to Hezbollah through diplomatic channels, saying it accepts Lebanon’s full demands.

Israel has pledged to acknowledge that Line 23 and the Qana prospect field are in Lebanese territory while also pleading with Hezbollah to set aside potential plans to attack Israeli gas fields in case of a delayed deal, the report added.

Secretary General of Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has already rejected any delays in the case as Lebanon is going through dire economic conditions. “Time is short, and depending on the [Israeli] response, we will surely act,” he said in a speech during Ashura mourning procession.

Hezbollah had set a deadline for Lebanon to secure its rights over the disputed areas, which will expire on September 15.

Meanwhile, Israeli media reported an Israeli official is set to make a trip to the United States to discuss the dispute in the hopes of achieving an agreement.

According to Al-Akhbar, some firms have warned Israel they would withdraw their employees and facilities in case the regime fails to guarantee their safety.

Nasrallah had earlier said the Israeli regime would not be allowed to conduct drilling operations for oil and natural gas in the disputed area in the Mediterranean Sea until Lebanon gets what it deserves.

“Lebanon is facing a historic and golden opportunity to get out of its financial crisis. If we fail to take advantage of it, we would not be able to extract oil within the next 100 years. We are not looking for moral gains out of extraction in the Karish natural gas field. We rather want to tap into our oil reserves. There would, therefore, be no room for oil or gas extraction in the entire region if Lebanon does not get its right,” Nasrallah said at a local event in Beirut on July 19.

Lebanese politicians hope commercially viable hydrocarbon resources off Lebanon’s coast could help the debt-ridden country out of its worst economic crisis in decades.

In February 2018, Lebanon signed its first contract for drilling in two blocks in the Mediterranean with a consortium comprising energy giants Total, Eni, and Novatek.

Lebanon and Israel took part in indirect talks to discuss demarcation in 2020. But the talks stalled after Lebanon demanded a larger area, including part of the Karish gas field, where Israel has given exploration rights to a Greek firm.

The talks were supposed to discuss a Lebanese demand for 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of territory in the disputed maritime area, according to a map sent to the United Nations in 2011. However, Lebanon then said the map was based on erroneous calculations and demanded 1,430 square kilometers (552 square miles) more further south, including part of Karish.

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