Lebanon files UN complaint over Israel-Cyprus EEZ deal

Lebanese minister says that Beirut's absence from Israeli-Cypriot economic zone talks violate Lebanon's right over area's resources.

June 22, 2011 11:24
2 minute read.
Drillling for gas offshore

Offshore Gas Drilling 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Beirut has issued a complaint to the UN over an agreement made between Cyprus and Israel demarcating an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) at the maritime border between the two Eastern Mediterranean countries, Lebanese English-language newspaper the Daily Star reported Tuesday.

According to the report, Lebanese Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Adnan Mansour issued a letter to Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon, saying “This agreement is a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty and economic rights and threatens peace and security in the area."

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Speaking to Hezbollah affiliated news channel Al-Manar Tuesday, Mansour said that Lebanon's absence from Israeli-Cypriot EEZ talks was a violation of the country's right to exploit resources that fall within its maritime borders. He said that Beirut will take all the necessary steps "within a legal framework," and will work to create a full report on the Lebanese share of the economic zone.

Earlier this month, the National Infrastructures Ministry gave permission to US company Noble Energy to begin the development of the "Noa North" natural gas reservoir, adding it to Tehtys and and Tamar as drilling sites for natural gas.

Scientists discovered the Leviathan gas field in June 2010. It is one of the largest offshore gas finds in the past decade, and rests some 130 kilometers west of Haifa.

Lebanon has claimed since the discovery that the field spills over into Lebanese territory, and says that Israel ignores this fact.

Israel has responded by saying that it would defend its resources, with National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau warning that the country would not be afraid to "use force" in protecting the area, Bloomberg reported.

According to Al-Manar on Tuesday, Monsour said that Lebanon is seeking UN assistance in demarcating the maritime line with Israel because of the country's enemy status with Beirut.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Seas stipulates that an EEZ can be established up to 200 nautical miles of the territorial sea, giving the coastal nation the sole exploitation right over natural resources. The issue has become contentious in the Eastern Mediterranean, resulting in conflicts between Greece and Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Egypt, and now Lebanon.

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