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Friday, 07 May 2021

Lebanon minister says signs amendment expanding claim over disputed maritime area with Israel

Negotiations between old foes Lebanon and Israel were launched in October to try to resolve the dispute about their maritime border that has held up hydrocarbon exploration in the potentially gas-rich area

Reuters , Monday 12 Apr 2021
Lebanese-Israeli border
FILE PHOTO: A base for U.N. peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is pictured in Naqoura, near the Lebanese-Israeli border, southern Lebanon November 11, 2020. REUTERS
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Lebanon's caretaker public works and transport minister said on Monday he had signed a document expanding Lebanon's claims in its maritime border dispute with Israel.

The amendment would add around 1,400 square kilometres to the exclusive economic zone claimed by Lebanon in its original submission to the United Nations.

The document now needs to be signed off by Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, minister of defence and president ahead of submission to the U.N. for a formal claim to register the new coordinates for the area.

"I expect it will be signed as everyone, the minister of defence and the prime minister and the president are concerned about this," minister Michel Najjar told a news conference.

Negotiations between old foes Lebanon and Israel were launched in October to try to resolve the dispute about their maritime border that has held up hydrocarbon exploration in the potentially gas-rich area.

The talks, a culmination of three years of diplomacy by Washington, have since stalled.

Israel already pumps gas from huge offshore fields but Lebanon has yet to find commercial gas reserves in its own waters.

Lebanon, in the throes of a deep financial meltdown that is threatening its stability, is desperate for cash as it faces the worst economic crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.

"We will not give up any inch of our homeland or a drop of its waters or an inch of its dignity," Najjar said. 

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