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Lebanese gas: What will Hezbollah’s reaction be made of?

“A very senior Hezbollah official, with extensive experience in this area, was entrusted with the maritime demarcation file. He will be assisted by a team of the most important engineers and geographers who work meticulously day and night,” declared Mr. Bayram at a press conference. He indicated that “there are no details on the identity of the person responsible”, in question adding that he might have to “present a complete vision for the management that appointed him”. However, he added that “This matter is the responsibility of the Lebanese State, it is in the interest of Lebanon and all Lebanese”.

Mr. Bayram pointed out that “US mediator Amos Hochstein and those affected in Israel have since yesterday received clear messages that any penetration into the disputed area will not be tolerated,” emphasizing that “This does not mean acting emotionally and unilaterally, on the contrary this position must rather be unanimous. » And to specify that “the unanimous position emerges from the position of the Lebanese state and that of supporting the people, but we will not allow the Israelis to impose issues in negotiations as a fait accompli, and this is what has prompted the officials Israelis yesterday to clarify that no one will approach near the disputed area. »

The Lebanese minister pointed out that “The Israeli will not be able to calmly benefit from the gas extracted before Lebanon can enjoy its gas”, wondering “on the reason for the delay of exploration operations in the uncontested blocks” by the companies to which they have been assigned. It is a consortium made up of French Total, Italian ENI and Russian Novatek. According to the manager, “There is a clear national public position that rejects any Israeli aggression against Lebanon’s wealth, but a unified and clear technical position is needed.”

Regarding the next visit next week from A. Hochstein to discuss the issue of demarcation, Mr. Bayram said that “The American mediator intends to visit us, except that we cannot count on him on this question or any other because, according to our personal experience, Israel’s interest has always been a priority for him. But what helps us is that we have a strength card, hence the importance of media pressure to create pressing public opinion that can reflect the national conscience. he revealed that when “line 29 was proposed with the American mediator, the Israeli withdrew from the session”, announcing that “an urgent bill has been introduced in Parliament to enact line 29 » noting that “this issue will be included in the discussions of the parliamentary blocs, where we will see who is for and who is against”. This route, carried out by the Lebanese army, in concert with a British company, gives Lebanon some 2,300 km2, the 860 of line 23 included.

In Israel, the daily Ha’aretz indicated that gas extraction operations will begin in 3 months. Israel Public Radio said the Israeli Navy is guarding the rig, and has secured its course since exiting the Suez Canal from Singapore.

On the Lebanese side, we are more and more convinced that the Americans are doing everything to prevent Lebanon from profiting from its wealth, via local agents or political actors who fear them. Or by putting pressure on the companies to which the blocks have been allocated to lead to the expiry of their exploitation in endless procrastination. Similarly, the Americans are using the economic crisis that Lebanon is going through to impose a border demarcation to the advantage of the Israelis, and to the detriment of Lebanese rights. They have, for example, conditioned the deliveries of gas and electricity from Egypt to the acceptance of their pro-Israeli conditions.

In his recent speeches, before the arrival of the Greek platform, the Secretary General of Hezbollah dwelt at length on the importance of launching the exploitation of oil and gas resources in the Mediterranean, considering that it is « Lebanon’s buried treasure ” and “his lifeline to get him out of his economic and financial crisis”. He insisted that it was necessary to take courageous positions and from a position of strength, to move forward, assuring that the resistance will do what is necessary to support them.

Since the boarding of this platform, several Hezbollah officials have insisted on the need for the Lebanese State to decide once and for all what are the maritime borders with occupied Palestine.

Three lines have been drawn: the 1 in a bilateral agreement with Cyprus, in 2007, from the government of Siniora, but which was never ratified by the Lebanese Parliament. Line 23 in 2011, further north, which grants Lebanon an additional 860 km2 compared to line 1, and whose two signed and approved decrees have been sent to the UN. It was contested by Israel, which wants to stick to Siniora’s line. Then that of 29, drawn in 2019 by the Lebanese army with the consultation of a British team and which grants more than 1400 km2 additional to the 860 km2 of the previous one.
This last line, however, requires an amendment to Decree 6433 by the Head of State. Except that Michel Aoun hesitates to sign it, before sending it again to the UN organization. Which makes some observers say that this new line was intended from the start for negotiations.

With the arrival of the Greek platform in Karish, Mr. Aoun is under strong demand to do so. He recalled having sent a missive to the General Secretariat of the United Nations Security Council, published on its website, assuring that there is no certified exclusive economic zone, contrary to Israeli allegations and contesting the drilling works which could constitute a threat to peace and security.
He asked the Lebanese army to inquire to locate the place where she docked.

Knowing that the real problem does not lie in the place where it docks to begin its gas extraction work, but in the location of the deposit in question, whether or not it is in a disputed area.

The resistance also took an interest in the place where the platform boarded.
Quoting sources from the Islamic resistance, Ibrahim al-Amine, the editor-in-chief of the Lebanese daily al-Akhbar close to Hezbollah reports that the Greek ship did not even dock at the limit of line 29. that he avoided provoking Lebanon, of his own free will,” he said. And this at the request of the Israeli military and security institution, which has warned against a position that could trigger a direct confrontation with Hezbollah, especially since it has the means to target the platforms or even any body in action. in the course of drilling.

The Israeli command had been warned, reports al-Amin, via several mediators, that Hezbollah is very serious and is following this issue very closely, especially if ‘Israel’ intends to impose a fait accompli.

According to al-Amin, “the resistance, which has expressed being ready for all eventualities, correlates its approach to several things: “Lebanon’s final position on the demarcation of maritime borders, which depends on negotiations with the Americans, and the degree of involvement of the enemy in uncalculated moves that make confrontation inevitable”.
A third situation could also push the resistance to take action, he points out: “Being satisfied with a notification from the Lebanese authorities, stating that Israel is usurping the rights of Lebanon, to undertake the process most appropriate to prevent the enemy from operating at sea, and perhaps more than that”.

For the moment, the Lebanese authorities are sticking to wanting to relaunch the first step. They asked A. Hochstein, American mediator (of Israeli nationality) to return to Lebanon to discuss the demarcation. He is expected to arrive next Sunday or Monday, according to parliament leader Nabih Berri. Last February, he made a proposal on this file which had been rejected by Hezbollah and the Amal movement.
His solution recommended a transaction outside the 23rd and 29th demarcation lines, and promotes the separation of gas or oil production in this area between Lebanon and Israel, via international companies and a mechanism defined in advance, according to experts.

While pretending to negotiate on line 23, in the continuity of his predecessor Frederic Hof who had proposed its sharing with Israel at 55% for Lebanon and 45% for the Zionist entity, A. Holchstein proposes 50 km2 more in Lebanon, but suggests that the Qana deposit north of Line 29 should be given entirely to Israel.

Observers note that the line of demarcation followed by the American-Israeli mediator is in zigzag, on the borders with block 8, located to the south of block 9 and whose exploration has not yet been attributed to any oil company.

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