Israeli Minister Addresses Lebanese President on Twitter
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz addressed President Michel Aoun on Twitter on Monday.
“Lebanese President Michel Aoun, first of all, despite the current state of relations between our two countries, I would like to wish the Lebanese people not only a happy Independence Day, but also a speedy recovery from the crisis you are going through,” tweeted Steinitz.
On the maritime demarcation talks and Lebanon denying claims it changed its stance seven times, Steinitz tweeted: “Unfortunately, it seems you don’t know all the facts about this matter because the Lebanese side changed its position on the maritime border many times during the last 15 years.”
Steinitz added, again addressing Aoun: “I am confident that if we had met face to face in one of the European countries to conduct open or secret negotiations, we would have had a good chance to solve the maritime demarcation dispute once and for all.”
He concluded: “I am enjoying our dialogue on Twitter these days about the maritime border negotiations.”
On Friday, the Presidency’s press office issued a statement and shrugged off as “baseless” Steinitz’s claim, a day earlier, that Lebanon has changed its stance “seven times.”
Lebanon and Israel, which remain technically at war, opened negotiations on the border dispute under U.S. and U.N. auspices last month to clear the way for offshore oil and gas exploration.
They have been negotiating based on a map registered with the United Nations in 2011, which shows an 860-square-kilometer (330-square-mile) patch of sea as being disputed.
But Lebanon considers that map to have been based on wrong estimates.
Aoun's tweet on Thursday confirms that Lebanon is now demanding an additional 1,430 square kilometers (552 square miles) of sea further south, which includes part of Israel's Karish gas field, said Lebanese energy expert Laury Haytayan.