Israel to postpone gas extraction from disputed field with Lebanon: Report
The delay comes just two weeks before a deadline established by Hezbollah for Lebanon to secure its maritime rights
By News Desk - August 29 2022

(Photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Israeli Channel 12 correspondent Nir Divori reported on 28 August that the Energean floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel is likely to postpone gas extraction operations from the disputed Karish gas field until October, citing “technical issues.”

While Divori did not elaborate on the obstacles hindering the operations, a thread on LinkedIn posted days earlier shed light on financial and organizational problems “aboard an FPSO in disputed waters off Israel under threat of Hezbollah attacks.”

The Lebanese resistance group previously established 15 September as the deadline for Beirut to secure its maritime rights, under threat of armed conflict.

On 5 June, the Energean FPSO arrived in Israel and was immediately hooked up and commissioned for an eight billion cubic meter per year production capacity.

The company announced it would anchor 90 kilometers offshore and be commissioned in September to start exporting gas through an underwater pipeline connected to the shore of Dor, Israel.

This situation triggered a series of condemnations by Lebanese officials who considered this a breach of Lebanon’s sovereignty, causing unpreceded tensions since 2006 between Hezbollah and the Israeli army.

As a result of the reported delay, Tel Aviv likely hopes to reach a better deal with Beirut while avoiding compromise in light of the threats made by the Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah.

Divori reported to Channel 12  that Israel intends for the upcoming deal to stipulate a redrawing of the maritime borders so that two gas platforms will be built facing each other, one in Lebanon and another in Israel.

However, a portion of the Lebanese gas platform will be located within the “Israeli offshore territory,” which will be compensated financially for Lebanon’s investment.

The two platforms will be placed at a distance of five kilometers from each other, creating a very small buffer intended to deter any possible attacks by Hezbollah.

Moreover, another obstacle that faces the Israeli decision makers on their path to finalize a deal with Lebanon is the legality of handing over “Israeli territory” without Knesset approval.

In an interview with Kann TV channel on 28 August, Israeli Professor of Law at Ariel University, Talia Einhorn, revealed that “Lapid’s transitional government does not have the authority to hand over territories to Lebanon as part of the maritime negotiations.”

Similarly on 22 August, Israeli lawmaker Yariv Levin called on the Israeli government to allow a vote at the Knesset and hold a referendum before it reaches a deal to demarcate the maritime border with Lebanon.

This technical-related delay, coupled with reports that Israel intends to delay the deal further until after the Israeli elections in November, will not be taken with ease by Hezbollah.

In a video release by the group on 31 July, Hezbollah focused on the time factor and reiterated it “will not accept further delays nor will be tricked into accepting excuses.”

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