U.N. declines Lebanon’s mediation request on natural resources


JERUSALEM (JTA) – The United Nations has declined Lebanon’s request to make sure that Israel does not encroach on energy resources in its territorial waters.

In a letter sent Tuesday to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Lebanon Foreign Minister Ali al-Shami called on the international body to ensure that “Israel does not exploit Lebanon’s marine and oil wealth, which lies within its exclusive economic zone,” Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported.

The United Nations in 2000 defined the land border between Israel and Lebanon, but did not draw an official naval border.

"Security Council Resolution 1701 does not include delineating the maritime border," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirsky said Wednesday. "We are talking about two different things — coastal waters and a disputed maritime border."

Lebabon’s letter follows an announcement last week by the Houston, Texas-based Noble Energy that a natural gas field dubbed Leviathan discovered in Israel’s territorial waters contains an estimated 16 trillion cubic feet of the natural resource.

Lebanon has said that some of the deposits extend into its territorial waters, which Israel disputes. The Lebanese government in August approved a law to allow offshore oil and gas exploration for the first time.

Lebanon and Israel do not have an agreed-upon maritime border and remain in a state of war.

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