Israel has accused Lebanon of changing its position in talks on their disputed maritime border and warned it could lead to a “dead end” that would be damaging for the whole region.
The two countries, which remain in conflict, paved the way for negotiations on the border dispute under the US and UN’s supervision last month to clear the way for offshore oil and gas exploration.
“Lebanon has changed its stance on its maritime border with Israel seven times,” Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz tweeted late Thursday.
“Its current position contradicts not only its previous one but also Lebanon’s stance on its maritime border with Syria, which takes into account Lebanese islands close to the border,” Steinitz said.
Lebanon’s army chief said on Friday that there would be no compromise on the country’s sovereignty in maritime border negotiations with Israel.
Israel has been recently threatening to attack Lebanon and meddle with the nation’s already damaged stability, said Armed Forces Commander General Joseph Aoun, two days ahead of Lebanon’s Independence Day.
“77 years of independence and Lebanon is currently going through an unprecedented critical and difficult phase on the political, economic, and social levels,” the general noted, with reference to the recent port disaster that claimed the lives of hundreds amid the coronavirus global pandemic.
The army chief said everyone in Lebanon is counting on the military to face “danger and bury sedition,” vowing that any attempt that threatens civil peace would not be tolerated.
Earlier on Thursday, President Michel Aoun urged the correction of the UN-demarcated Blue Line in a meeting with UNIFIL’s head of mission Major General Stefano Del Col.
Aoun stressed the necessity of correcting the line separating Lebanon and Israel so that it applies to the internationally recognized land borders.
“The demarcation of the maritime border is based on the line that starts overland from the Ras Naqoura point in south Lebanon, according to the general principle known as the median line, without taking into account any impact on the occupied Palestinian coastal islands,” a presidency statement said.
Israel and Lebanon have been negotiating based on a map registered with the United Nations in 2011, which shows an 860-km2 (330-square-mile) patch of the sea as being disputed.
However, Lebanon considers that map to have been based on wrong estimates.
Lebanon is now demanding an additional 1,430 km2 (552 square miles) of sea further south, which includes part of Israel’s Karish gas field, according to Lebanese energy expert Laury Haytayan.