Berri Warns of New Conflict with Israel over Maritime Bordersإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Speaker Nabih Berri warned on Wednesday of an Israeli pretext to trigger a new war against Lebanon after the latest reports about decisions made by the Israeli government and the Knesset to approve the demarcation of the maritime-economic border with Lebanon, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday.
Berri voiced warnings of the “new Israeli assault against Lebanon's sovereignty,” and said “what has been revealed by Israeli media was not arbitrary, but rather reveals a path taken by Israel in a bid to control Lebanon's gas and oil wealth within Lebanese economic borders.”
Israeli media revealed two days ago that the Israeli government and the Knesset had decided to approve the demarcation of the sea-economic border, “with the aim of excavating and extracting natural resources.” The most dangerous thing is that it aims to annex a disputed area between Lebanon and Israel rich with oil and gas resources and stretches over an area of about 860 square kilometers, the daily said.
“I have always voiced warning against arriving at such a reality,” said Berri, “someone is responsible for placing the 860 square kilometers in the Israeli circle.”
“Anyway, if the Israeli disposition is correct, which I tend to believe, it is tantamount to a war sparked by Israel. It is another maritime Shebaa Farms Conflict which opens the situation to many dangerous possibilities,” concluded Berri.
Lebanon and Israel are bickering over a maritime zone that consists of about 860 square kilometers and suspected energy reserves that could generate billions of dollars.
Lebanese officials have continuously warned that Israel's exploration of new offshore gas fields near Lebanese territorial waters means the Jewish state is siphoning some of Lebanon's crude oil.
In January, the Lebanese government has approved key decrees that pave way for oil and gas extraction off Lebanon's coast, after more than two years of political deadlock.
The decrees authorize regulators to divide the offshore areas into blocks for drilling and exploration and to issue tenders.
A portion of the reserves lies in territory disputed by the two countries.
Hizbullah has repeatedly warned Israel against tapping into Lebanon's gas reserves
Earlier this decade, geologists discovered a bonanza of gas reserves off the coasts of Lebanon and Israel, sparking a frenzy of development on the Israeli side to tap into the fields.