Lebanon wants oil companies to begin drilling for oil at its southern maritime border in a response to conditions set by Israel, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on Friday.
As an alternate plan to resume maritime border demarcation talks with Israel, Lebanon has requested that the United Nations encourages oil companies that have struck contracts with Lebanon to immediately commence work.
“Starting with this work is among the most important assistance to be provided to Lebanon at this stage,” Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri has told U.N. Deputy Special Coordinator for Lebanon and Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs Najat Rushdie, as per the newspaper.
Lebanon, which is reeling from an unprecedented economic crisis, hopes to boost its frail economy with oil and gas.
Yuval Steinitz, Israel‘s energy minister, recently expressed Israel‘s willingness to reach a solution with Lebanon regarding the border talks, so long as Beirut was willing to show “lenience.”
Lebanon, however, has maintained that it will not cede the area that it claimed during the U.S.-mediated negotiations.
Lebanon “will not give up its rights in the file of demarcating its borders, even if the negotiations require 10 or 20 years,” Lebanese caretaker Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe stressed in December, during a statement to a local TV station.
The indirect negotiations have lacked progress since the dispute about Lebanon’s claims emerged in November.
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