Photo Credit: Moshe Shai / Flash 90
An aeriel view of the Israeli 'Tamar' gas processing rig 24 km off the Israeli southern coast of Ashkelon. Noble Energy and Delek are the main partners in the Tamar gas field, estimated to contain 10 trillion cubic feet of gas.

{Originally posted to the Elder of Ziyon website}

Ever since 1949. Lebanon has refused to negotiate with Israel to determine the exact maritime border between the two nations. As a result, there is a wedge of nearly 1000 square kilometers that is in dispute in the Mediterranean (marked above), and where it is difficult for either nation to drill exploratory wells to search for natural gas or oil, which is plentiful in the area.

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Israel has lots of gas fields it has discovered and it is not drilling in the disputed area.

Now, Lebanon is interested in resolving the dispute, as Lebanon’s Daily Star reports:

Speaker Nabih Berri said Tuesday that Lebanon would agree to mark its maritime borders with Israel and Exclusive Economic Zone by the same mechanism used to demarcate the Blue Line, under the supervision of the United Nations.

The U.N.-demarcated Blue Line currently separates Lebanon and Israel’s lands with over 200 points, but at least 13 points are disputed by the Lebanese government.

Berri’s remarks came during a meeting with UNIFIL head Stefano del Col, where the pair discussed the situation in south Lebanon, Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty, the Blue Line and the maritime border.

Del Col said the mechanism used to draw the Blue Line could also be used to resolve the maritime border issue and enhance stability, according to a statement from Berri’s office.

What changed?

Lebanon was very aware of the potential of gas drilling in the area for at least a decade, so it doesn’t appear to be economic reasons.

Could it be that the softening of the Gulf Arab states towards Israel, and Trump’s embrace of Israel’s side in the Golan and elsewhere, is injecting some realpolitik into Lebanese thinking?

This is especially interesting since Hezbollah slavishly does whatever Iran wants, and Iran wouldn’t agree to any cooperation with Israel in any way. Either Iran changed its mind for some reason or the Lebanese government is ignoring Hezbollah’s demands in this area.

The Middle East is changing in fundamental ways. It is too bad that the EU and Democratic Party in the US still think that we are in the 1990s, pushing for a solution that has never worked, while ignoring these very real changes.

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