Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Saturday threatened to destroy Lebanon if Hezbollah attacked Israel.
“The ball is in Lebanon’s court regarding the maritime delimitation agreement, but if Hezbollah attacks Israel, we will destroy Lebanon,” Gantz said in an interview with Israel’s private Channel 12.
In October 2020, indirect negotiations began between Beirut and Tel Aviv under the auspices of the United Nations with the aim of demarcating the borders.
“The defense body in Israel has given the green light to American company Noble Energy to restart the pipeline review process at the Karish gas field to start the exploration process,” the media reported.
According to the same source, “Aside from Tel Aviv simultaneously preparing for possible expansion in the north, the Americans are pressuring Lebanon to reach an agreement delimiting maritime borders with Israel”.
The Israeli channel added that Tel Aviv said it was “concerned about Hezbollah’s provocations”. According to the same source, this would lead to “expansion on Israel’s northern border”.
The Israeli military has “reinforced its air and sea patrols around the Garish installation, and has deployed an air defense system in northern Israel”, Channel 12 notes.
Lebanon and Israel contest 860 square kilometers of sea, according to maps the two countries sent to the UN in 2011.
The area is rich in natural gas and oil. Under the auspices of the UN and the mediation of the United States, five sessions of indirect talks on the issue have been organized since 2020, with the last being held in May 2021.
On Thursday, the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, citing an unnamed political source, announced that Prime Minister Yair Lapid had rejected Lebanon’s reservations over the wording of a draft maritime boundary agreement presented by US mediators last week.
The Lebanese presidency previously announced in a statement that “Beirut’s amendments to the draft agreement delimiting maritime boundaries guarantee Lebanon’s exploration rights for gas and oil in its exclusive economic zone.”
*Translated from Arabic by Hajar Cherni
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