J'lem yawns at Lebanon threat to take maritime line to UN

Lebanese MP reportedly said Israel's initiative to demarcate northern maritime border "threatens international peace and security."

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July 21, 2011 02:08
2 minute read.
Tamar offshore gas field.

tamar offshore gas field_311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Israel responded with a yawn on Wednesday to Lebanese media reports that the country might complain to the UN Security Council about the maritime border approved recently by the cabinet.

The Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reported Wednesday that MP Muhammad Qabbain, head of the country’s parliament’s Public Works, Transport, Energy and Water Committee, said the county “can lodge a complaint saying that Israel’s actions threaten international peace and security. Following this move, and even if Israel does not abide by the UN resolution, large international [excavating and offshore drilling] companies will no more be able to operate in an area dubbed as disputed by the UN.”

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Qabbain is a member of the Future Movement, part of Said Hariri’s March 14 Alliance standing opposed to Hezbollah.

Israel’s cabinet on July 10 approved the demarcation of the northern maritime border with Lebanon, in an effort to protect economic rights in offshore territories that Lebanon is claiming as its own. Israel will submit its map to the UN to counter a map that Lebanon submitted last year.

Israel made the move now because under international maritime law, if one country makes a claim and another country does not counter it, the silence of the second country is viewed as acquiescence.

The Star reported that Lebanon views Israel’s map as an “aggression” against the country’s gas and oil rights.



One Israeli official said Lebanese threats to take the issue to the Security Council, where it is currently a member, is merely a “smokescreen” to camouflage the fact that Lebanon violated international maritime line by unilaterally demarcating the border last year.

According to the official, borders cannot be demarked unilaterally, but rather must be agreed upon by both countries, or – if they can’t agree – must be sent to an arbitrator that both sides agree upon. Since Lebanon has refused to do either, the official said, it can’t just set the maritime border on its own. Once it did, he added, Israel had no choice but to do the same in order to protect its interests.

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