Le sous-secrétaire d’État en charge du Proche-Orient, David Schenker, s’est déclaré optimiste quant à la signature d’un accord entre le Liban et Israël, accord réalisé avec la médiation des États-Unis, pour la délimitation des zones économiques maritimes exclusives entre les deux pays.
Il s’agit notamment de permettre au Liban de poursuivre sa campagne d’exploration au niveau du bloc 9 attribué au consortium formé par les français de Total, les italiens d’ENI et les russes de Novatek.
David Schenker a ainsi noté que des progrès substantiels ont été effectués ces derniers jours sur ce dossier, notamment dans le cadre des discussions à venir entre le Liban et Israël. “Cela ouvrira une opportunité à la fois pour le Liban et israël à accomplir de vrais progrès”, estime-t-il.
Le responsable américain a ainsi indiqué espérer revenir une de ces prochaines semaines pour conclure un accord.
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.