As if Lebanon does not have enough problems on its own. While Lebanon’s financial crisis deepens, the hopes that the new oil extraction will be the economic savior grows amongst people. Last week, Total started drilling in one of its sectors in hopes of accomplishing that.
On Tuesday, December 17, President Michel Aoun held a meeting with Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col, UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), in the presidential palace.
The meeting took place to investigate the violation of Greek oil exploration vessel’s entry to Lebanon’s territorial waters for about seven hours. That oil exploration vessel operates for the Israeli Army.
This is not the first territorial breach by the Israelis. On February 6, earlier this year, they licensed a company to exploit an area for oil and gas near disputed borders between Lebanon and Israel; according to Middle East Monitor. This area is an “unresolved” maritime border over a sea zone of about 860 sq km and extends along the edge of three of Lebanon’s energy blocks.
After the meeting, president Aoun stated that “Lebanon rejects any violation of its legitimate rights within its territorial waters, and Israeli naval violations of Lebanese sovereignty are no less dangerous than land and air violations, which Israel continues to carry out.”
He continued saying, “Lebanon is keen to activate the existing cooperation between the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL, in order to maintain stability, and address issues raised.”
In the end, President Aoun expressed his gratitude towards the UNIFIL and its efforts to preserve the Blue Line demarcated by the UN resolution 1701 that was put in place during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war.
The question remains, though. What was the vessel, which is working for Israel, doing on Lebanese maritime territory for seven hours? Does the Lebanese authority know? Is it investigating?