Lebanon to invite US mediator to Beirut over maritime boundary dispute with Israel

Lebanon said on Monday June 6th that it would invite a US mediator to Beirut to continue negotiations over a disputed maritime boundary with Israel. Lebanese officials said that they wanted to prevent any escalation, after accusing Israel of encroaching on contested waters.

At the beginning of the week a vessel operated by UK-based Energean arrived off the coast to develop a gas field which Israel has claimed was part of its exclusive economic zone. However, Lebanon says the area falls within the contested waters.

Israel’s Energy Minister Karin Elharrar said on Monday that the Lebanese account was “very far from reality”.

Lebanon agreed to invite US mediator Amos Hochstein to discuss “completing the negotiations to demarcate the southern maritime border.

Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati said that Lebanon would contact major powers and the UN to affirm its position. He said that any Israeli drilling or exploration in the disputed area would be “a provocation and an act of aggression” that would threaten peace and security.

Energean said its floating production storage and offloading vessel arrived on Sunday at the Karish field, which is about 50 miles west of the Israeli city of Haifa, and that it planned to bring it online during Q3 2022.

Last year Lebanon expanded its claim in the disputed zone by around 540 square miles.