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Lebanon Approves Border Demarcation Amid Dispute With Israel

Lebanon’s parliament approved the demarcation of the country’s maritime border amid a dispute with Israel over the drilling for natural gas and oil in the Mediterranean Sea.

“We had to pass this law without delay, especially because Israel and Cyprus have started to drill for oil,” Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said today during the house session. Lebanon is expected to submit the law, which allows the country to define its exclusive economic zone and explore resources, to the United Nations.

Israel’s cabinet approved on July 10 the demarcation of its northern maritime border after Lebanon complained that Israel’s drilling for natural gas and oil in the Mediterranean Sea encroached on its territory. Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah, which fought a war with Israel in 2006, has pledged to protect the country’s offshore resources.

Lebanon has asked the UN to adopt measures to prevent a conflict with Israel over energy exploration in areas that may fall within Lebanese territorial waters. Israel’s agreement last year with Cyprus to set maritime borders for the purpose of energy exploration “is a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty and economic rights,” Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in June.

Israel has discovered two gas fields, Tamar and Leviathan, off its Mediterranean coast. Together they hold an estimated 25 trillion cubic feet of the fuel. Investors in the sites include Noble Energy Inc. of Houston, and Israeli companies Delek Drilling-LP, Delek Energy Systems Inc., Avner Exploration-LP and Ratio Oil Exploration 1992 LP.

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