The United States reportedly relayed a “strict” message to Lebanon through the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, regarding the indirect maritime demarcation talks between Lebanon and Israel, media reports said on Monday.
According to private news portal, Lebanon Debate, Lebanese authorities received a firm message from Shea stipulating that Israel will withdraw completely from the demarcation negotiations with Lebanon, and will start exploration in the disputed area, if the maritime boundary decree is amended and Line 29 is approved.
The first round of indirect negotiations to demarcate the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel began on October 14, under a US mediation and the auspices of the United Nations.
The talks aim to resolve a dispute over their maritime borders, which has hindered oil and gas exploration in the potentially gas-rich region.
The latest session of talks between Israel and Lebanon was put off after Israel accused Lebanon of inconsistency.
The two sides have been negotiating based on a map registered with the United Nations in 2011, which shows an 860-square-kilometer patch of sea as being disputed.
But Lebanon considers that map to have been based on wrong estimates and now demands an additional 1,430 square kilometers of sea farther south, which includes part of Israel’s Karish gas field, according to Lebanese energy expert Laury Haytayan.