The natural gas-rich Mediterranean waters disputed by Israel and Lebanon could lead to war, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament threatened on Thursday, Globes reported.
The official, Nabih Berri, denounced Israeli claims to the 534-square mile area as “a new assault by Israel on Lebanese sovereignty. What has been revealed by Israeli media was not arbitrary, but rather reveals a path taken by Israel in a bid to control Lebanon’s gas and oil wealth within Lebanese economic borders.”
“Anyway, if the Israeli disposition is correct, which I tend to believe, it is tantamount to a war sparked by Israel. It is another maritime Sheba Farms Conflict which opens the situation to many dangerous possibilities,” Berri added, referring to Hezbollah claims to an area also known as Har Dov, which international bodies have recognized as part of Israel.
In January, the Lebanese government issued tenders for gas and oil exploration licenses for offshore blocks which overlap with waters claimed by Israel.
In response, Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz said, “In early February, we sent an official letter to the U.N. expressing our protest about the actions by Lebanon…Israel will maintain its rights, but is open to a dialogue in this context.”
Israel has also asked the U.S. and the U.N. to intervene on its behalf to persuade the Lebanese to withdraw or moderate their claims.