There’s been a great deal of discussion lately on the issue of Lebanon’s maritime border with Israel, and how it will impact Lebanon’s plans for off-shore drilling.
If you haven’t been following along, I highly recommend a piece Matt Nash wrote on the subject about a week ago. (Matt, as I think I’ve said before, is one of the few journalists in Lebanon who reports the hell out of a story; I’m regularly impressed by the amount of research he does.)
Here’s the gist of the dispute:
- Lebanon signed an agreement with Cyprus in early 2007 which established their maritime borders and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of each country. [Sibylle Rizk informs me that this is not true... Lebanon's EEZ was established in 2009, once it had set its borders with Syria as well]. The southernmost point of that border was called Point 1.
- In 2010, Cyprus signed an agreement with Israel establishing their maritime borders, and used the same Point 1 as a terminal reference.
- By then, Lebanon had determined that Point 1 was actually too far north and the real point of intersection between all three countries was several kilometers to the south, known as Point 23. It filed papers with the UN to that effect in July 2010.
- Initially choosing Point 1 was a major blunder on Lebanon’s part, as admitted by the relevant officials in charge
- Israel has, of course, taken exception to Lebanon’s claim, reminding the UN that this new border violates Lebanon’s original agreement with Cyprus.
- The UN and the US have both gotten involved as mediators, but there have been no breakthroughs as of yet.
Based on the various sets of coordinates filed by Israel, Cyprus, and Lebanon with the UN, I drew up a Google map showing the precise area under dispute (see above).
My question is the following: what led Lebanon to revise its opinion on the location of the border? Was it based on a new survey? If anyone has any information on this score, please provide it in the comment section.