Israel Rejects Lebanese Claims on New Karish Rig: ‘The Rig Will Not Pump Gas from Disputed Territory’

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By Gil Tanenbaum/TPS • 8 June, 2022

Jerusalem, 8 June, 2022 (TPS) — In a strong show of the Israeli government’s unity on the matter, Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid, and Minister of Energy Karin Elharar jointly issued a statement in response to the threats made by the Lebanese government as well as the terrorist group Hezbollah over Israel’s offshore Karish natural gas field.

“The Karish rig is a strategic asset of the State of Israel and is intended to extract the energy resources and natural gas in the State of Israel’s Economic Zone and to advance Israel’s ‘green economy,’” declared the 3 Israeli ministers.

The threats against Israel were made on Monday after the new Karish natural gas rig was put into place in the area by the Greek Energean Oil and Gas plc., which holds the development rights to the Karish field.

The Lebanese government accused Israel of encroaching on its sovereign territory, claiming that part of the Karish field stretches into its own waters in the Eastern Mediterranean. After the rig was put into place, Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s office stated that “negotiations to demarcate the southern maritime borders are still ongoing.” It went on to say that “any action or activity” by Israel in what Lebanon claims to be the disputed section of the Karish field would constitute, “a provocation and a hostile act.”

Hezbollah has also threatened to take hostile actions against Israel over the Karish field.

In response to these threats, on Monday Israel sent Navy warships into the area to protect its new rig.

In their statement on Wednesday, Lapid, Gantz and Elharar went on to state that the new Karish rig was anchored definitively within Israel’s territorial waters in the Mediterranean, several kilometers to the south of the area disputed by Lebanon and that Israel will definitely not pump any gas out from the disputed territory.

“The State of Israel prioritizes the protection of its strategic assets, and is prepared to defend them and the security of its infrastructure, all in accordance with its rights,” they added.

The three also called on the State of Lebanon to “accelerate negotiations on the maritime border,” explaining that locating gas-based energy sources can greatly assist that nation’s economy and its citizens.

Lebanon has been suffering from a serious ongoing economic crisis in recent years.

“It is in the interest of the State of Lebanon to advance the dialogue on this matter. We hope that this will occur,” they added.

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