Tamar drilling site off Haifa coast
Photo: Reuters
Lebanon seeks to approve oil law against Israel
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri says Israel drilling in his country's territorial waters; government to discuss natural gas reserves on Monday

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said Friday that his country plans to approve an oil law, which would maintain Lebanon's gas rights in the Mediterranean. He was speaking in response to remarks made by Israel's National Infrastructure Minister, who threatened to use force to defend the offshore gas reserves.


According to Berri, the gas reserves found in drillings off Israel's coast are located within Lebanon's territorial waters as well.


"Israel is ignoring the fact that, according to the maps, this field is included within Lebanon's territorial waters," he said.


Berri called on the Lebanese government to launch gas and oil drillings in its waters and warned that Israel would gain control of Lebanon's gas rights in the Mediterranean.


"The best answer to Israel's threats is to rush to approve the oil law," he said. The Lebanese government is expected to discuss the matter on Monday.


The Hezbollah faction, which is part of the Lebanese coalition, also believes that the government must act on the matter.


"The evidence coming out from Israel in regards to the gas stocked in the sea stress the need to hurry up with all moves needed to start taking advantage of this vital resource. We must pass a law which would regulate the oil and gas drillings regardless to anything else," one of the faction members said.


Minister Landau said Thursday that Israel was willing to use force in order to protect the natural gas reserves discovered off its northern shores. In an interview with the Bloomberg news agency, the minister responded to Lebanon's claims that some of the Leviathan and Tamar oil sites, estimated to be worth some $40 billion, are within its territorial waters.


"We will not hesitate to use our force and strength to protect not only the rule of law but the international maritime law," Landau said. "Whatever we find, they will have something to say. That’s because they’re not challenging our findings and so-called occupation of the sea. Our very existence here is a matter of occupation for them. These areas are within the economic waters of Israel."


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