Lebanon affirms demarcation line rights in maritime border dispute
Former IDF soldier and US Energy Envoy Amos Hochstein is expected to visit Beirut in the next few days to renew discussions on disputed maritime boundaries
By News Desk - February 06 2022

An oil tanker carrying fuel oil from Iraq, is seen anchored near the Zahrani power plant in Zahrani near the southern Lebanese city of Sidon. (Photo credit: MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Amos Hochstein, US President Joe Biden’s energy envoy who served in the Israeli occupation forces from 1992 to 1995, is expected to visit Lebanon soon to renew discussions on the country’s maritime border.

The visit comes weeks after Lebanon’s firm statement to the UN asserting its maritime sovereignty, which was first made public on the Arabic-language website Lebanon Debate on 4 February.

A 28 January letter from Lebanon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the United Nations on the orders of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, demanded the shift of the southern Lebanese maritime borders from the 23rd to the 29th demarcation line.

The letter laid out Lebanon’s legal arguments for expanding its economic activities in the south, in a clear reference to the 29th line that the Lebanese army command uses as its legitimate maritime borderline.

In October 2020, Lebanon’s military-technical negotiating delegation was assigned to start defending its claim to the area the demarcation line Line 29. 

The Lebanese Ministries of Defense, Energy, Water, and Foreign Affairs issued a statement under the title Preserving Lebanon’s Rights, declaring that “the area between lines 1 and 23 to the area between lines 23 and 29,” was within Lebanon’s maritime boundaries, which gave it “an increase of 1,430 square km in addition to the previous 860 square km.”

The statement concluded that Lebanon can claim its right to 2,290 total square km of maritime area.

The Karish gas field, currently being illegally exploited by Israel, “is a disputed area, and Israel cannot continue its exploration operations nor begin extraction operations,” the statement continued.

Drilling by Israel in the disputed area “endangers international peace and security,” and Lebanon has warned international oil exploration companies, many of which work with Israel, against operating in the disputed area south of the 23rd line.

The Lebanese move to defend its maritime sovereignty came in response to a message sent by Israel’s representative to the United Nations on 23 December of 2021, which declared Tel Aviv’s sovereignty over the area between the demarcation Lines 1 and 23.

In his letter, Israeli Ambassador Gilian Erdan issued an objection to “Lebanon opening the second licensing round for oil and gas exploration in offshore waters.”

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