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MARITIME BORDER

Opposition MPs demand amendment to maritime boundary decree as Israel gas ship moves to contested area


Opposition MPs demand amendment to maritime boundary decree as Israel gas ship moves to contested area

A UN ship pictured off the coast of ​​Naqoura, on the border with Israel, on Oct. 14, 2020. (Credit: AFP)

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s 13 opposition MPs Monday demanded the executive authority represented by President Michel Aoun and the Lebanese government to “instantaneously and without any stalling” amend the decree that would claim an extended maritime boundary between Lebanon and Israel and lodge the formal claim to the United Nations. This move comes as Israel on Sunday reportedly moved a floating production, storage and offloading unit from the Energean Power company — to Karish natural gas field, which is disputed between Israel and Lebanon.

Here’s what we know:

    • In a press conference, MP Melhem Khalaf, speaking on behalf of the 13 opposition MPs, called on the executive authority to “instantaneously and without any stalling — we are talking within hours, not days or weeks — amend the Decree No. 6433 of 2011 and affirm Line 29 instead of 23, which was decided on without referring to any legal provisions,” adding that not doing so would be “questionable.”

    • Decree No. 6433 defines the maritime boundaries of the Lebanese exclusive economic zone. Line 29, which Lebanon is negotiating, adds 1,430 square kilometers to the country’s maritime borders which would partially encompass the Karish field.

    • Khalaf also requested that a warning letter be sent to Energean Power, a London-based hydrocarbon exploration and production company, whose unit arrived in the maritime disputed zone over the weekend. He also stressed that an objection letter should be sent to the UN Secretary-General as well as a formal complaint to the UN Security Council against Israel for giving it the permission to extract fuel from the disputed field, “which subjects the international peace and security to danger.”

    • In case the demands of the 13 MPs are not met concerning the amendment of the decree, Khalaf said that “the forces of change MPs, along with whoever wants to be on board, will submit an urgent law proposal legislating the amendment of Decree 6344 in order to adopt Line 29 as an official line of demarcation of the southern maritime borders.”

    • “But [the executive authority] should not think that because of this suggestion they can turn a blind eye to the first demand (of amending the decree); this doesn't clear them from their responsibility,” Khalaf added.

    • Khalaf also called on forming a parliamentary investigative committee that would study this file in all its details, in case no action is taken on the part of the president and government, considering it a strategic issue and insisting that all parties concerned are held accountable.

    • Opposition MPs also called on Lebanese citizens to gather Saturday, May 11 at 4 p.m. in Naqoura, a southern city on the Lebanese coastline next to the Israeli border, beyond the base of United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), “to demand and insist, while waving the Lebanese flag, on amending the Decree No. 6433.”

    • Earlier today, both Aoun and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati agreed to invite the Amos Hochstein, the United States mediator of Lebanon’s maritime borders with Israel, to Beirut, “in order to discuss proceeding with the maritime borders negotiations in the south and working on finishing them as fast as possible.”


BEIRUT — Lebanon’s 13 opposition MPs Monday demanded the executive authority represented by President Michel Aoun and the Lebanese government to “instantaneously and without any stalling” amend the decree that would claim an extended maritime boundary between Lebanon and Israel and lodge the formal claim to the United Nations. This move comes as Israel on Sunday reportedly moved a...