Monday, August 8, 2022

Lebanon urges US envoy to end maritime dispute with Israel

BEIRUT ( Associated Press) — The Lebanese government on Monday invited a US envoy mediating between Lebanon and Israel on their disputed maritime border to return to Beirut as soon as possible to work on a deal amid rising tensions along the border.

The invitation to Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser on energy security at the US State Department, came a day after Israel installed an oil rig at its designated location in the Karish region, which Israel says is a UN-recognized special facility. Part of the economic sector. , Lebanon says it is in a disputed territory.

US-mediated indirect talks between Lebanon and Israel have stalled for months amid disagreements within Lebanon over how large the disputed area is.

Lebanon is home to the heavily armed militant Hezbollah group, which is backed by Iran and has fought several wars with Israel. Hezbollah has also warned that it will use its weapons to defend Lebanon’s trading rights.

On Sunday, Lebanon warned Israel not to begin drilling in the Karish region and President Michel Aoun said maritime boundary talks were not over, saying any move by Israel was considered “a provocation and a hostile act”. Will go

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Aun’s office said that Lebanon formally informed the United Nations in February that Karish is part of the disputed territory and called on the UN Security Council to “avoid measures that threaten international peace and security”. Drilling there should be stopped.

Israel’s Ministry of Energy confirmed that the oil rig arrived on Sunday after a five-week trip from Singapore. The ministry said the Karish field is projected to provide half of Israel’s natural gas demand and will allow for greater exports to neighboring Egypt and Jordan.

Israel’s Energy Minister Karine Elharer said in an interview with Army Radio on Monday that the region was “in completely undisturbed territory” and called on Lebanon to return to indirect talks.

“It’s not even the southern line (above) that Lebanon has presented to the United Nations. Even according to the United Nations, it’s not in Lebanon,” she said. Taking necessary steps to protect

On Monday, the office of Lebanese Acting Prime Minister Najib Mikati said it had agreed with Aoun to invite Hochstein to return to Beirut for talks on the border dispute and “they should be urgently required to prevent any escalation”. To work on ending sooner” will not serve the stability that the region is currently seeing. ,

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Israel and Lebanon, which have been officially at war since the creation of Israel in 1948, both claim approximately 860 square kilometers (330 sq mi) of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon is expected to boost offshore oil and gas production as it grapples with the economic crisis.

Last year, the Lebanese delegation – a mix of army generals and professionals – presented a new map that pushes for an additional 1,430 square kilometers (550 sq mi).

“Karish is a natural gas reservoir within Israel’s UN-recognized exclusive economic zone,” said an official in Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as to the rules, said the Lebanese themselves had recognized it as Israeli waters in the past.

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Associated Press writer Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem contributed reporting.

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