Lebanon complains to UN about Israel's maritime claims

Here, as published today in Haaretz, is the Israeli claim to an Exclusive Economic Zone in the Eastern Mediterranean — in an area that seems to be rich with newly-discovered undersea gas deposits [the two lighter blue zones, marked Leviathon and Tamar, are the two  announced by Israel over the past two years or so]:

graphic on Haaretz of Israel's maritime claimsIt’s hard to tell without more references, but it looks as though the line drawn as Israel’s “Northern Maritime Border” does not go straight out from the coast at a 90 degree perpendicular to the coast — instead, the line shown here seems to go north…

A report by the German News Agency DPA published in Haaretz reports that “Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansor, in a letter sent Monday to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, rejected Israeli claims of the northern part of the waters between the two countries. ‘The Israeli claim infringes on Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic (sea) Zone’, a zone that gives a country the right to explore its maritime resources. ‘This is a clear violation of Lebanon’s rights… over an area of some 860 square kilometers, and puts international peace and security at risk’, it said”. This is published here.

As Haaretz reports, “Over the past two years, Israel has discovered two fields thought to contain about 24 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. The discoveries could be enough to make Israel energy self-sufficient for decades”, while “Norway-based Petroleum Geo-Services this year announced it had explored Lebanese waters which contained “valuable information” on potential offshore gas reserves”. Meanwhile, Lebanon and Israel have not ended the state of war that has existed since 1948, and do not speak directly to each other, or have diplomatic relations.

So, they have each asserted their claims in the media — and now at the UN [through the Secretary-General and his special representative…]

2 thoughts on “Lebanon complains to UN about Israel's maritime claims”

  1. * Lebanon signed an agreement with Cyprus in early 2007 which established their maritime borders and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of each country. The southernmost point of that border was called Point 1.
    * In 2010, Cyprus signed an agreement with Israel establishing their maritime borders, and used the same Point 1 as a terminal reference.
    * By then, Lebanon had determined that Point 1 was actually too far north and the real point of intersection between all three countries was several kilometers to the south, known as Point 23. It filed papers with the UN to that effect in July 2010.
    * Initially choosing Point 1 was a major blunder on Lebanon’s part, as admitted by the relevant officials in charge
    * Israel has, of course, taken exception to Lebanon’s claim, reminding the UN that this new border violates Lebanon’s original agreement with Cyprus.
    * The UN and the US have both gotten involved as mediators, but there have been no breakthroughs as of yet.

  2. Nikkor, thank you. This is something I’ve been trying to understand for months, and what’s available in English did not explain it.

    If it were not here, and if different players were involved, they would all just sit down and re-negotiate, like adults.

    It also strikes me that if Israel knows a major blunder has been made by Lebanese officials, Israel is not obliged to take advantage of it. One could even go so far as to suggest that Israeli is obliged not to take advantage of it.

    What Lebanon negotiated with Cyprus does not bind Israel, nor does it oblige Lebanon in respect to Israel…

    Also, if I recall correctly, I was told months ago by a Cypriot diplomat that their EEZ delineation agreement with Lebanon has not been ratified by the Lebanese parliament … and that would invalidate Israel’s argument, wouldn’t it? [[Yes! I just found my post on that, dated 17 December 2010, here, and there is a related post dated 20 December 2010, here.]]

    At least, that fact should make Israel more flexible and accommodating and reasonable — and why wouldn’t that really be in Israel’s interest?

    The real “green elephant in the room”, of course, is Turkey — and when Turkey begins to assert its claims to an EEZ, which it now seems interested in doing, many of the’ agreements in the Eastern Mediterranean will have to be re-opened, and probably re-negotiated.

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