Lebanon minister claims U.S. plan on maritime dispute favors Israel

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Beirut, Lebanon (4E) – A Hezbollah minister claimed Sunday that a U.S.-proposed settlement of the maritime boundary dispute between Lebanon and Israel puts gas-rich Lebanese maritime economic zone into Israeli territory.

Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan accused the U.S. of indirectly aiding Israel to claim part of Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) during a speech at a ceremony for Al-Imam al-Mahdy Scouts in the Bekaa city of Hermel.

Hasan was referring to the proposed compromise boundary and division of natural gas resources to be extracted from an overlapping maritime territory of 330 square miles that Lebanon and Israel are both claiming as part of their EEZs.

The U.S. came up with the boundary compromise in November to prevent a potential war between Israel and Lebanon, which have figured in several wars before. The U.S. also wants the two countries to peacefully tap the oil and gas reserves so U.S. companies can join in the exploitation.

Both countries are still scrutinizing the proposed settlement.

The Levantine Basin, which includes the territorial waters of Lebanon, Israel, Syria, and Cyprus, could hold as much as 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 122 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to estimates of the U.S. Geological Survey in March 2010. The amount constitutes 8.5 percent of the global total for gas deposits.

The maritime dispute arose in July 2011 when Israel submitted it maritime boundary map to the United Nations. The endpoint of the boundary lay 10 miles northeast of Lebanon’s final point indicated in its own boundary map submitted to the U.N. in October 2010. Lebanon immediately warned Israel against encroaching on its territorial waters.

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