20:16 GMT13 May 2021
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    The Israeli government has approved gas exploration in the Alon D block, located along block 9 of the Mediterranean shelf – a disputed maritime area. Lebanon and Israel contest that area of the shelf, while both sides consider it a part of their exclusive economic zone.

    Lebanese President Michel Aoun previously stated that such actions by Tel Aviv could be very dangerous, and Lebanon will not allow encroachment on its own economic zone in the Mediterranean.

    Experts claimed to Sputnik that Israel is trying to get Lebanon back to the negotiating table, especially in light of Beirut's ongoing economic and domestic political weakness.

    Lebanese political science expert Faisal Abdel Sattar sees the Israeli actions as an attempt to escalate relations with an obviously weak side that is experiencing a serious crisis.

    "It was precisely at a time of internal chaos and unrest, when US policy was pushing Lebanon, when the lyre was falling unprecedentedly, that Israel announced the start of gas exploration right near the disputed waters. This is clearly an attempt to exacerbate the situation. Let me remind you that Lebanon and Israel have not demarcated their maritime borders", he said.

    The Lebanese expert stressed that Lebanon's position on the issue remains unchanged.

    "Israel seems to be just seeking to further mess things up in the Lebanese crisis. But Lebanon will not allow anyone to take advantage of the situation, and will respond accordingly to Israeli provocations", he stated.

    Attempt to Impose Negotiations

    Lebanese political analyst Usamah Wahby sees Tel Aviv's steps as an attempt to bring Beirut to the negotiating table, although the latter side is the least prepared.

    "Israel is trying to galvanize the Lebanese authorities, shake them up and thus bring them into dialogue. This is what the US has wanted for a long time and was even ready to mediate. However, the problem is that Lebanon is now the least willing to negotiate with anyone due to the domestic political and economic crises. It seems that Tel Aviv could not care less about this situation. It is always easier to force a feeble opponent to dialogue on your terms than to conduct dialogue on equal terms", he said.

    Lebanon rejected the US proposal to demarcate its maritime border with Israel, which dates back to 2017.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    gas field, gas, Lebanon, Israel
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