Lebanon warns Israel against maritime border move
BEIRUT - Lebanon's president on Monday warned Israel against "unilateral decisions" in the demarcation of a shared maritime border, as a feud over offshore gas reserves between the two enemy states deepens.
"President Michel Sleiman warns against any unilateral decisions Israel may take on maritime borders which would be a breach of international law, as is Israel's habit," read a statement released by his office.
Sleiman also said the issue would be up for discussion at the first meeting of Lebanon's new government, which on Thursday won a vote of confidence in parliament.
While Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government is dominated by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, the last Western-backed Lebanese government took a similar stand in the conflict over offshore gas reserves.
Israel's cabinet on Sunday approved a map of the country's proposed maritime borders with Lebanon to be submitted for a UN opinion.
The proposed map lays out maritime borders that conflict significantly with those suggested by Lebanon in its own submission to the United Nations.
Lebanon's Energy Minister Gibran Bassil said that Beirut will not give up its maritime rights, and accused Israel of "violations of (Lebanese) waters, territory and airspace, and today our oil rights."
Israel has for months been moving to develop several large offshore natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, some which are shared with Cyprus, that it hopes could help it to become an energy exporter.
But its development plans have stirred controversy with Lebanon, which argues that the gas fields lie inside its territorial waters.
Israel does not have officially demarcated maritime borders with Lebanon, and the two nations remain technically at war.