The blue line, demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel, at Ras Naqoura. Photo credit: Francois el Bacha, for Libnanews.com. All rights reserved.
The blue line, demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel, at Ras Naqoura. Photo credit: Francois el Bacha, for Libnanews.com. All rights reserved.

Le deuxième round de négociations entre le Liban et Israël s’est ouvert en présence des médiateurs américains et de représentants de l’ONU au siège de la FINUL à Naqoura.

Cette session se déroule sous la présidence du commandant de la FINUL, le général Stephano del Col et en présence du coordinateur spécial de l’ONU pour le Liban Jan Kubis. Cette réunion devrait être consacrée à la distribution des rôles des différents négociateurs présents.

Les autorités libanaises ont indiqué devoir durcir leurs positions, élargissant les revendications territoriales libanaises à des champs gaziers déjà découverts et devant être exploités à partir de 2021 par la compagnie grecque Energean au profit des autorités israéliennes après que Tel Aviv ait revendiqué une part importante de la zone libanaise, indiquent certaines sources. Cette demande libanaise inclurait donc 1450 kilomètres carrés supplémentaires à la zone économique libanaise en plus des 850 kilomètres carrés déjà revendiqués par les 2 pays.

Cette demande libanaise pourrait retarder le processus d’exploitation des ressources gazières présentes dans cette zone.

Il s’agirait pour les autorités libanaises de restituer la totalité des droits du Liban sur ses zones maritimes et terrestres conformément aux accords Paulet-Newcombes de 1923 et de la convention d’armistice de 1049, alors que du côté de Tel Aviv, on estime qu’une partie de la zone maritime exclusive libanaise pourrait leur revenir en raison de l’existence de 2 petits îlots sous son contrôle.

La partie libanaise réfute cette argumentation en vertu des lois internationales, estimant que cette zone est petite et inhabitée.

Pour l’heure, il est trop tôt pour savoir si Tel Aviv va choisir d’interrompre le processus de négociation ou réduire ses revendications sur les zones maritimes exclusives libanaises.

Pour rappel, le Liban a accordé l’exploitation du Bloc 9 dont une partie est revendiquée par Israël au consortium formé par le français Total, l’italien ENI et le russe Novatek. L’exploration et l’exploitation des ressources potentielles présentes dans ce bloc sont cependant retardées.

Focus: The delimitation of the economic zone between Lebanon and Israel

As a reminder, at the origin of this problem, the negotiations between Lebanon and Cyprus in 2011. The starting point of the zone was arbitrarily fixed by the 2 countries at point 1 of the borders.
Therefore, the Hebrew State has decided to continue the delimitation of its maritime borders at point 25 according to its measures which corresponds to point 1 for Lebanon.
However, Lebanon estimated from the start that the starting point of its economic exclusivity zone was at point 0, according to Beirut or 23, according to the Hebrew state and located 17 km south of point 1, fixed during negotiations. between Tel Aviv and Nicosia.
Thus is delimited a triangle going from point B1 located at Ras al Naqoura to point 0 then to point 1.
This area is claimed by the 2 states, Lebanon and Israel. It thus covers more than 800 square kilometers. Part of blocks 8, 9 and 10 are thus at the center of the controversy.
The situation was worsened by the discovery of a significant potential of gas and oil deposits in this area.
Lebanon says it has maps proving that the area belongs to it.

In addition, the Hoff line named after the American mediator who had already taken up the case in 2011 and which Beirut had already rejected, grants 560 square kilometers to Lebanon and the remainder to Tel Aviv.

In 2019, when negotiations looked like they could be relaunched between Lebanon and Israel, they came to a screeching halt for reasons hitherto unknown. The tension between the 2 countries has also increased with the discovery of tunnels crossing the blue line, the dividing line between the 2 countries.

On October 14, 2020, negotiations between Lebanon and Israel opened at UNIFIL HQ in Naqoura and in the presence of the American mediator, the United States Under Secretary of State, David Schenker, and under the auspices of the coordinator UN Special in Lebanon Jan Kubis.

Tel Aviv, announcing the existence of 2 islets in its territory – uninhabited islets – located not far from the Israeli coast would also have also extended its claims on the Lebanese blocs.

During the 3rd round of negotiations which took place on October 28, Lebanon thus hardened its position and informed the Israeli delegation about its new demands, expanding the exclusive maritime zone to 1,430 additional square kilometers to the detriment of Israel, by extending the land border with a straight line. This zone would include several gas fields already discovered and allocated by Israel to a Greek exploitation company. These Lebanese demands should therefore freeze the exploitation of these fields until an agreement is reached.
It is for Lebanon not to make any concessions on its maritime areas when Israel previously claimed part of them, note some sources, who expected that an agreement could be reached before the end of the year, granting all the original area to Lebanon.

In addition, on April 5, 2021, it is indicated that negotiations between the 2 countries could resume after the publication of a report stating the possible existence of a large gas field in the area even if this remains theoretical for the moment.

Indeed, for the moment, no progress has been noted on this subject, and no meeting is currently officially scheduled.

In addition, decree 6,433 was signed by the ministers of transport Michel Najjar, of defense Zeina Akkar and the outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab, in April 2021, while the President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun has decided to suspend his signature pending the government meeting, which the Prime Minister refuses.
This decree formalizes the Lebanese position of enlarging its exclusive economic zone while on the Israeli side, we are preparing to launch an exploratory campaign in the zone.

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