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Israel-Lebanon Offshore Energy Dispute

Lebanon looks ready to compromise with Israel in its decade-long dispute over the Karish gas field, potentially giving up its claim in exchange for a neighboring field, following Hezbollah’s election losses.

Abdallamagdy, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Hapy Oil Rig in Mediterranean Sea, photo by: Abdallamagdy, CC BY-SA 3.0
Map of Lebanon-Israel Offshore Energy (oil) dispute
BY PHIL BAINBRIDGE

U.S. energy envoy Amos Hochstein is holding discussions in Beirut at the invitation of the Lebanese government after the Greek-owned energy company holding the Israeli lease for the Karish gas field sent a vessel to the area to begin work.

In 2021, the Lebanese government dominated by Hezbollah and its allies had changed their negotiating position on its territorial claim to take in an additional 1,400 square km including the Karish gas field, the so-called Line 29. Until 2020, Lebanon’s dispute with Israel focused on a more modest 860 square km bordered by Line 23. Recent indications from Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s office suggest that they do not have “the technical foundations on which to construct a case for Line 29 because previous governments had failed to produce formal documentation to maintain this position”.

However, Iranian-backed Hezbollah has said that it is willing to take action if Israel continues oil and gas exploration within Lebanon’s recently-expanded maritime claim.

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