After Israel's announcement that it will submit a bill to the Israeli Knesset annexing a disputed maritime border area with Lebanon, Lebanese authorities have sent a letter to the United Nations and Security Council denouncing the move and warning of the repercussions, media reports said on Saturday.
The Israeli move has put Lebanon on alert at the political and diplomatic levels. Prominent political figures have questioned the objectives that Israel seeks to achieve at this particular time, said al-Joumhouria daily.
In the past few hours, a series of contacts from the Lebanese side towards the United Nations and the Security Council were made. Lebanon's foreign ministry has sent a letter, described by a senior source “as extremely important”, to the Security Council drawing attention to Israel's acts and warning against the repercussions, said the daily.
The letter reiterated that Israel seeks to pirate a Lebanese area within its economic borders. It referred to the documents Lebanon has sent to the United Nations proving that.
Similar contacts were held with Washington, said the daily, being the mediator who has contributed in the past years to find a compromise between Lebanon and Israel on that matter. Even-though Washington reached at one point a near-agreement, but it was unable to make Israel commit to it.
However, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, said the Israeli pretext for such a move is due to the failure of US mediation efforts between Lebanon and Israel.
But what drew attention, is a report in Israel's newspaper Maariv that Tel Aviv has asked Washington to pressure Lebanon into withdrawing the tender for oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean, in exchange that Israel stops to push the bill to the Knesset, Lebanon's daily said.
A prominent Lebanese source who spoke on condition of anonymity told al-Joumhouria: “Lebanon has not received any request from the United States, knowing that we have already confirmed our right in this maritime area to Washington and the United Nations.
“It is obvious that Israel is taking a blackmailing step towards Lebanon and trying to discourage foreign companies from participating in this matter. We better be cautious and not succumb. On the contrary this must make us more determined than ever to assert our right and defend it.”
Lebanon and Israel are bickering over a maritime zone that consists of about 860 square kilometers and suspected energy reserves that could generate billions of dollars.
Lebanese officials have continuously warned that Israel's exploration of new offshore gas fields near Lebanese territorial waters means the Jewish state is siphoning some of Lebanon's crude oil.
In January, the Lebanese government has approved key decrees that pave way for oil and gas extraction off Lebanon's coast, after more than two years of political deadlock.
The decrees authorize regulators to divide the offshore areas into blocks for drilling and exploration and to issue tenders.
A portion of the reserves lies in territory disputed by the two countries.