Spurred by 'Israeli greed,' Lebanon allows oil exploration

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
August 17, 2010 20:09

 
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Spurred by "Israeli greed," Lebanon's parliament hurriedly passed a law Tuesday allowing oil and gas exploration off its coast, effectively ending a decade-long political deadlock in the face of worries that Israel would infringe on its reserves.

For the past decade, Lebanese politicians have been unable to agree over how to exploit the country's natural resources, bickering over which companies would do the surveying.

But recent Israeli discoveries in the east Mediterranean and a rising national debt have pushed Lebanese politicians to close ranks and approve the new energy law, which was strongly backed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and his allies in the militant Hezbollah group.

Their decision was given added impetus by Israel's discovery of two natural gas fields last year and another Leviathan, this year.

"The amount of debt and Israeli greed are major concerns," said Berri's aide Ali Hamdan of why consensus emerged around the new law. "Passing the law is a message that shows Lebanon is serious and persistent."

Israel has denied the charge that some of its recently discovered gas field stretch into Lebanese territorial waters.

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