Washington will send an envoy to Lebanon next week for talks on Beirut’s energy crisis while emphasizing the State Department’s hope that Lebanon and Israel can arrive at an agreement delimiting their maritime borders, the State Department said on Friday, Reuters reports.
Jerusalem dismissed Lebanon’s accusations as “very far from reality, “.calling the dispute was a civilian matter that could be resolved diplomatically with mediation from America.
Earlier this week, Israel365 News reported that Lebanon sent a “warning” to Israel on Sunday against any “aggressive action” regarding gas production in the eastern Mediterranean region, Reuters reported.
The warning came after a gas production ship arrived in the area to begin developing an offshore gas reserve for Israel.
Israel says the field in question is located within its exclusive economic zone and has offered to take part in U.S.-mediated negotiations with Lebanon to resolve the issue.
Lebanon’s president Najib Mikati invited U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein for talks on “completing the negotiations to demarcate the southern maritime border and to work on concluding the issue as fast as possible to prevent any escalation that would not serve the state of stability in the region,” Mikati tweeted.
Mikati called Israeli drilling in the area he claims to be disputed “a provocation and an act of aggression.” He also claims it threatens security and peace.
In an interview, Karine Elharrar, Israel’s Minister of Energy, told Tel Aviv radio 103 FM that there was “absolutely no” violation by Israel.
Elharar added that she was skeptical that Lebanon would make good on its threats. However, she hinted at retaliation if Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon attacks Israel. “I recommend that no one try to surprise Israel,” she said.
In 2020, Lebanon increased its claim in the disputed zone by approximately 550 square miles.