Hundreds of people and several lawmakers protested in southern Lebanon on Saturday against Israel moving a gas production vessel to an offshore area partially claimed by Beirut.
The US envoy to mediate maritime boundary talks between the two neighbors is expected to be in Lebanon, and the demonstration comes just days before a ship operated by London-listed Energian reached the Karish gas field last week.
An AFP correspondent said several hundred people waved Lebanese and Palestinian flags in the Lebanese border town of Naqoura, where the Karish region is located, to protest Israel’s claim on the area.
“We absolutely refuse to ignore Lebanon’s marine resources, which are all Lebanese,” MP Firas Hamdan said, reading out a joint statement by 13 independent lawmakers.
There are no diplomatic relations between Lebanon and Israel and UN patrols are separated from the border.
Lebanon’s president and prime minister have condemned Israel for moving the ship to the Karish region and invited US envoy Amos Hochstein to Beirut to mediate.
According to the US State Department, Hochstein is due to arrive in Lebanon on Monday on a two-day visit.
Lebanon’s powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group this week warned Energean against proceeding with its activities.
Lebanon and Israel resumed talks on their maritime boundary in 2020, but the process was stalled by Beirut’s claim that the map used by the United Nations in the talks needed to be revised.
Lebanon initially sought 860 square kilometers in disputed maritime territory, but then asked for an additional 1,430 square kilometers, including part of Karish.
Independent lawmakers said in Saturday’s statement they supported Lebanon’s claim for Karish’s share.