Hizbullah Vows to Confront 'Any Attack' on Lebanon's 'Oil and Gas Rights'
Hizbullah on Wednesday hit back at Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman over remarks about offshore gas, pledging to “confront any attack” on Lebanon's “oil and gas rights.”
“Lieberman's statements are a new reflection of the continuous Israeli ambitions regarding Lebanon's resources, land and waters, and are part of the hostile policy against Lebanon and its sovereignty and legitimate rights,” Hizbullah said in a communique.
“As we express our support for the stances of the three presidents and the rest of Lebanese officials against this new aggression, we reiterate our firm and forthright stance on confronting any attack on our oil and gas rights, defending Lebanon's installations and protecting its resources,” the group added.
It was referring to stances by Lebanon's president, parliament speaker and premier and the Lebanese ministers of foreign affairs, defense and energy.
Earlier in the day, Lieberman described as "very provocative" Lebanon's tender on exploring gas in Block 9. This gas field "is by all accounts ours," the Israeli minister said.
Lebanon in December approved a bid for offshore oil and gas exploration off its Mediterranean coast -- a vision for years hampered by political instability and domestic wrangling.
That deal was awarded to the only bidder, an international consortium including France's Total and Russia's Novatek.
Lebanese officials say the country will start exploratory offshore drilling in 2019.
A major finding in Lebanon's southernmost waters could raise the possibility of a dispute with Israel, which is developing a number of offshore gas deposits, with one large field, Tamar, already producing gas, and the larger Leviathan field set to go online next year.
There are over 800 square kilometers of waters claimed by Lebanon and Israel, which are technically in a state of conflict. Israel and Hizbullah fought a fierce, monthlong war in 2006.