Israel put an end to the gas dispute with Lebanon

The Government of Israel unilaterally decided to include in its exclusive economic zone disputed coastal areas of the Mediterranean, where there are huge reserves of oil and gas. The claims on them are made by neighboring Lebanon, who believes that he also has the right to develop deposits. In accordance with international law, their affiliation to Tel Aviv or Beirut remains an unresolved matter. Nevertheless, Israel has already begun earning its first profits under earlier contracts, while Lebanon remains out of work.

The Israeli authorities took such a step after the failure of negotiations with representatives of Lebanon with the mediation of the United States, the Arab media reported.

The already tense relations between Tel Aviv and Beirut became even more acute in 2009, when the American company Noble Energy announced the opening of the Tamar field in the Mediterranean Sea. In late 2010, the same company opened the Leviathan field. And in 2012 – the Tanin deposit. The total volume of the explored gas is estimated at about 800 billion cubic meters, the undiscovered gas is estimated at several trillion cubic meters.

Such natural wealth promises considerable profits to their owner. But it was impossible to determine the owner, because the unresolved dispute between Israel and Lebanon prevented demarcation of maritime borders.

“Lebanon sent maps to the UN, on which he presented the correct location of maritime borders,” explained Lebanese political scientist and brigadier-general Amin Hetite to Izvestia. “But Israel opposed and illegally expanded its exclusive economic zone and thus included deposits in it. Lebanon appealed to the United Nations, as well as to the United States, so that they exerted pressure on Israel and forced it to demarcate maritime boundaries. However, so far nothing has been done. Tel Aviv actually cleaned the oil and gas areas to its hands.

Amin Hetite also did not rule out that Lebanon could use force to prevent “plundering its riches”. First of all, we are talking about the movement of Hezbollah. According to the expert, Israel decided to act now, as the Israeli elites have a feeling that the current US administration is more likely than the previous one to “patronize” Tel Aviv.

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“Israel would never have taken such actions if it did not feel that there was comprehensive support from the United States, including within the framework of the UN Security Council,” said Amin Hetite.

According to the inter-Arab newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Supply of Israel Yuval Steinitz, secured by the approval of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, began work on the introduction of disputed areas of the Mediterranean into the exclusive economic zone of the country. Currently, the relevant bill is being prepared, which will give Tel-Aviv the right to use disputable deposits.

“No international expert opinion has questioned Israel’s right to extract gas there because it is its special economic zone,” Israeli political scientist Avigdor Eskin told Izvestia. – No signal came from the UN that the country’s actions are contrary to international law. And as for Lebanon, it is clear that after the deposits were discovered and their development was started, he wants to make money on it.

However, as explained to Izvestia by the chairman of the Bar Association “Starinsky, Korchago and Partners,” expert on international law Eugene Korchago, the issue of the ownership of disputed waters and deposits there from a legal point of view is still open.

– Formally, the borders were never approved, as there is no peace treaty between Israel and Lebanon and Lebanon does not recognize Israel. Thus, at the moment to give an unambiguous answer, who owns the disputed territory, it is impossible. The decision on maritime borders can be taken only by the UN in accordance with strictly established criteria. It is likely that the decision will eventually be made in favor of Israel, since before that, Lebanon was repeatedly asked to settle the matter, but it was never done, “said Yevhen Korchago.

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv has already begun to make a profit. As Delek Drilling, a consortium participant in the development of offshore gas fields off the coast of Israel, said in early March, gas exports began in January this year. And the buyers were the Jordanian companies Arab Potash and Jordan Bromine, which in 2014 signed a 15-year agreement on the import of 2 billion cubic meters of gas. As for Beirut, he is still out of work.

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