Lebanon calls for arbitration in Israeli dispute, warns of consequences

President Michel Aoun stressed in an interview on the Iraqi Alsumaria TV network on Friday that Lebanon is ready to resort to arbitrage to bring to an end the maritime dispute with Israel, warning the Jewish state of "severe consequences" it may face if a resolution isn't reached.
President Michel Aoun stressed in an interview on the Iraqi Alsumaria TV network on Friday that Lebanon is ready to resort to arbitrage to bring to an end the maritime dispute with Israel, warning the Jewish state of “severe consequences” it may face if a resolution isn’t reached.

President Michel Aoun said Friday Lebanon is ready to resort to arbitrage to bring to an end the maritime dispute with Israel, warning the Jewish state of the “severe consequences” it may face if a resolution isn’t reached.

Speaking during an interview with Iraq’s Alsumaria TV, Aoun said that Lebanon’s borders are clearly demarcated in maps “dating back to the 1920’s that are accessible to the whole world.”

Aoun then invited Israel to take part in a process of arbitration overseen by the United Nations in order to avoid “a tragic result, adding that “Israel knows what’s at stake.”

Speaking to Annahar on Thursday, Aoun vowed to proceed with oil and gas exploration in Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EZZ) irrespective of Israel’s claims, adding that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield failed to propose a solution other than the plan submitted by the U.S several years ago.

lebanon offshore oil, gas blocksSatterfield visited Lebanon for the second time in as many weeks on Thursday, acting as a mediator between both states in an effort to resolve the dispute. Experts are of a belief that Satterfield’s proposal is based on a previous U.S proposal that seeks to divide the 860 sq-km disputed zone, with Lebanon relinquishing around 40 percent of the area.

“To the best of  my knowledge, there haven’t been any changes in the U.S plan,” Aoun said.

Israel has escalated its threats after initiating the construction a 23-foot concrete wall along the UN-demarcated blue line, while also blasting Lebanon’s recent offshore gas exploration agreements with a consortium of international energy companies. Israel claims that part of one of the two blocks to be explored falls under its jurisdiction, while Lebanese officials contest these claims.