Gov't to vote on maps defining northern maritime border

Resolution submitted to gov't says Lebanon's claims of ownership over naval territory and maps it sent to UN contradict previous agreements.

July 10, 2011 09:32
1 minute read.
Tamar offshore gas field.

tamar offshore gas field_311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The government on Sunday was expected to approve maps submitted to the UN demarcating Israel's northern maritime border in the Mediterranean Sea, following Lebanese claims over some of the territory.

The maps, prepared by the Foreign Ministry, set the latitude and longitude of Israel's waters and its maritime borders within which Israel has exclusive rights to exploit natural resources.

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The draft resolution submitted to the government says that Lebanon's claims and maps that it proposed to the UN contradict maritime boundaries it previously agreed to with Cyprus.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio on Sunday that reports that the United States backs Lebanon on the maritime border dispute are "nonsense."

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Army Radio Sunday that he is confident the UN will accept Israel's position on its marine border with Lebanon. He said, "The dispute over the border with Lebanon was created by the Lebanese. It is incorrect that the Americans sided with Lebanon in this dispute. There are very objective and organized rules, and I think that Israel will have no problem proving its ownership of the maritime areas that are ostensibly in dispute."

Ayalon added, "We've been in contact with Lebanon for a very long time. We have an interest in demarcating and setting all the borders, but they refuse. Even the current land border, which is recognized by the UN, is without Lebanese involvement or recognition. After the huge gas reserves were discovered, they suddenly woke up.

"Our position was that if the maritime borders are demarcated, the land border should be jointly demarcated as well. Now that they've suddenly sent maps, we have no choice but to set the borders ourselves."

Earlier this year, Lebanon turned to the UN for assistance in protecting its gas reserves along the disputed maritime border with Israel, after a huge gas field was discovered off the coast.

Lebanon has accused Israel of drilling in fields that extend into its waters, an allegation Israel denies. There is no official naval border separating the two countries.

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