April 19, 2024
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Competing Israeli/Lebanese Claims for Drilling Rights May Lead to War

TIP—The Washington Examiner recently outlined a scenario under which the next war in the Middle East may break out as a result of competing “Israeli and Lebanese claims over a potentially lucrative plot of [underwater] territory,” with the recently formed Lebanese government set to “move ahead with decrees that signal the beginning of bidding for drilling rights” to energy resources underneath disputed waters along the Israel-Lebanon border.

The outlet cited David Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explaining that Jerusalem would have to react to any such Lebanese move, which would be an implicit claim of sovereignty that would in addition potentially cost the Israelis “billions of dollars of revenue.” The Israeli daily financial newspaper Globes had already explained months ago that Israel would be “liable to lose territory if it does not object to the Lebanese acts in court, or even militarily,” and Weinberg emphasized that “there’s a very significant possibility that this could lead to increased tension on both sides, either as conflict through miscalculation, or an intentional effort by Hezbollah to escalate.”

The Israelis deliberately “avoided issuing tenders” so as not to inflame the situation. Meanwhile Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah recently reemphasized that he would seek a military confrontation with Israel and has claimed an April attack on Israeli soldiers. The group is widely thought to be seeking a way to rebuild its shattered brand as a Lebanese organization protecting Lebanese sovereignty from Israel. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea slammed the terror group for trying to open “another front with Israel” by pressuring the Lebanese Energy Ministry—which it controlled by proxy—to issue drilling tenders to disputed waters. The group has for years been accusing Israel of stealing Lebanon’s energy resources.

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