The maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel explained
The comments made by Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman at a Tel Aviv conference on January 31 sparked outrage in Lebanon. It brought the issue of the maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel back into the spotlight and managed to catch Washington’s attention once again.
Little was happening on this front after the change of Administration in the U.S. After a few months, Lebanese officials stopped announcing that a resumption of mediation efforts was imminent. Then, in October, the decision, by a Total-led consortium to place a bid for Block 9 (which includes a disputed area) in Lebanon’s first licensing round, rekindled interest once again in the topic. But the buzz was discreet, confined to experts and diplomatic circles, until it was out in the open when Liberman described Lebanon’s offshore tender as “very provocative” and urged international companies not to bid, about a month and a half after licenses were awarded (see our roadmap).
The dispute unfolded in December 2010, when Cyprus and Israel signed a maritime border agreement that was denounced by Lebanon because it encroached on parts of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). On July 10, 2011, the Israeli cabinet approved a map of Israel’s northern maritime border, and two days later, the Israeli mission to the United Nations submitted a list of geographical coordinates for the delimitation of the northern limit of Israel’s territorial sea and EEZ. Some of the points defined in the Cypriot-Israeli agreement and submitted later to the U.N. overlap with the Lebanese EEZ.
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