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Lebanon: anger at Israel's gas drilling plans in Mediterranean

The platform of the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea which started production today is pictured from the Israeli northern coastal city of Dor on December 31, 2019 [JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]
The platform of the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea which started production today is pictured from the Israeli northern coastal city of Dor on December 31, 2019 [JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri are angry that Israel is going ahead with its plans to drill for gas in the Mediterranean, local media have reported.

Their anger followed the announcement by the Halliburton Company that it will collaborate with Energean on three to five drilling wells in a natural gas field located in the territorial waters claimed by both Lebanon and Israel.

"There is no complacency in this matter, nor is there a waiver of Lebanese rights," said Mikati. "The UN must play its role in deterring Israel and forcing it to stop its repeated violations of Lebanese rights and sovereignty."

Berri called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beirut to take "urgent and immediate action" at the UN Security Council and the international community "to verify the possibility of a new Israeli attack on Lebanese sovereignty and rights."

The veteran politician added: "The Israeli entity's undertaking commissions and concluding of offshore exploration contracts for Halliburton or other companies in the disputed area at sea represents a violation or even a blow to the framework agreement sponsored by the US and the UN."

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Lebanon's representative to the UN, Amal Mudallali, submitted a letter on this issue to both UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Ireland's delegate to the UN, Geraldine Byrne Nason. Ireland holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month.

Mudallali called on the council to stop drilling works in the disputed area "in order to avoid any attack on Lebanon's rights and sovereignty." Moreover, she called for the international organisation to "prevent any future drilling in the disputed areas and to avoid steps that may pose a threat to international peace and security."

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli Energy Ministry claimed that the drilling is not going on in the disputed area, but in an Israeli area.

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