tamar offshore gas field_311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The government approved on Sunday the demarcation of its northern maritime border with Lebanon, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
This line, according to the statement, demarcates economic rights in offshore territories that - with the discovery of vast natural gas reserves - have become very lucrative.
The move to delineate the line was made in order to combat Lebanese claims to offshore territories that Israel claims as its own.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the maritime border marks the area of the state economic rights, including the right to exploit natural resources in the sea.RELATED:UN says will help Beirut with maritime border,
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"The area we are discussing borders in the north with Lebanon and Cyprus. The [maritime] line that Lebanon presented to the UN is significantly south of the Israeli line," he said. "It contradicts the line Israel has agreed upon with Cyprus, and what is more significant to me is that it contradicts the line that Lebanon itself concluded with Cyprus in 2007. Our goal is to establish the position of Israel regarding its maritime boundary, according to international maritime law."
Earlier, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio on Sunday that reports that the United States backed Lebanon on the maritime border dispute are "nonsense."
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon also commenting on the maritime proposal on Sunday told Army Radio 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.Globes and JPost.com Staff contributed to this report.