Report: Israel Seeking to Demarcate Maritime Border in Areas Disputed with Lebanon

Lebanese officials warned against Israel taking any “unilateral” steps in demarcating its maritime border in the areas near Lebanon, reported As Safir newspaper on Saturday.

Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth daily said that Israel is seeking to demarcate the maritime border in the area disputed with Lebanon through a draft law that will be proposed at the Knesset.

President Michel Suleiman's circles told As Safir that Lebanon will not recognize any “unilateral” Israeli action in this matter, stressing that the demarcation should abide by international rules.

“Israel's action should serve as a central unifying force for the Lebanese people that should drive them to fulfill all pending issues, especially the formation of a new government,” they added.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri told As Safir that the United Nations should tackle demarcating the maritime border as it did the Blue Line land border between Lebanon and Israel.

The demarcation of the maritime border is included in U.N. Security Council resolution 1701, he noted.

“What is the purpose of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon's navy if it cannot demarcate the maritime border?” wondered the speaker.

Commenting on the dispute, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati stressed that Lebanon is committed to demarcating the border of the Exclusive Economic Zone.

He warned of Israel's escalation if it goes ahead with adopting the law, demanding that the United States and U.N. take the necessary measures to confront the repercussions of this issue.

Head of the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Mohammed Raad condemned Israel's action, calling on the people to remain diligent and protect their country's complete sovereignty.

“Theoretical and diplomatic slogans alone will not prevent Israel's assault,” he warned.

“Lebanon enjoys all means to deter Israel,” he said.

Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour remarked that Israel is trying to create a crisis with Lebanon through attempting to demarcate its maritime border.

“There are several methods to confront its action, starting with diplomatic and political efforts and even the act of resistance,” he added.

In November, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy Amos Hochstein proposed the demarcation of the two countries maritime border by establishing a “maritime Blue line,” similar to the U.N.-drawn Blue Line that separates southern Lebanon and northern Israel, where the disputed zones would not be exploited by any of the two countries until the demarcation ends.

Oil and gas investments would kick off in the meantime in the undisputed areas, according to an understanding between the two sides.

Lebanon and Israel are bickering over a maritime zone that consists of about 854 square kilometers and suspected energy reserves there could generate billions of dollars.

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