Thursday, July 21, 2011

Is Lebanon Claim On Israel's Gas Reserves Less Than Meets The Eye

Lebanon doesn't seem to thing so--Lebanon is complaining on more than just the question of maritime borders:
The Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reported Wednesday that MP Muhammad Qabbain, head of the country’s parliament’s Public Works, Transport, Energy and Water Committee, said the county “can lodge a complaint saying that Israel’s actions threaten international peace and security.
Following this move, and even if Israel does not abide by the UN resolution, large international [excavating and offshore drilling] companies will no more be able to operate in an area dubbed as disputed by the UN.”
That sounds like a serious charge, yet the article in the Jerusalem is describing Israel's reaction as a "yawn".

Apparently Lebanon is in violation of international law:
One Israeli official said Lebanese threats to take the issue to the Security Council, where it is currently a member, is merely a “smokescreen” to camouflage the fact that Lebanon violated international maritime line [law?] by unilaterally demarcating the border last year.

According to the official, borders cannot be demarked unilaterally, but rather must be agreed upon by both countries, or – if they can’t agree – must be sent to an arbitrator that both sides agree upon. Since Lebanon has refused to do either, the official said, it can’t just set the maritime border on its own. Once it did, he added, Israel had no choice but to do the same in order to protect its interests.
I'm not clear on why the the fact that Lebanon did not follow proper protocol should make Israel feel more at ease. It's not as though by doing so Lebanon forfeited the right to make a claim.

Of course, to make that claim, Lebanon will have to deal with Israel either directly or through an arbitrator. I would assume in the end they will settle on an arbitrator, at which point there will be a compromise where I assume Israel will end up having to agree to handing over some of gas reserves.

But at least Lebanon's unilateral claim will be dismissed.

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