Efforts on to Stem Growing Israel-Lebanon Tension
The growing tension between Israel and Lebanon over a stretch of border ratcheted up when the Lebanese Higher Defense Council – a body comprised by the Prime Minister, President and five ministers that is akin to Israel’s Security Cabinet – ordered the army to prevent Israel from building its security wall in a contested area. The location at issue is along the “Blue Line” – the demarcation between the two nations that was sanctioned by the United Nations. Despite the UN certification that Israel is, indeed, working only on its own side of the border, the Lebanese continue to claim sovereignty over the area in question. The government did not say what measures have been approved in order to stop work on the security barrier, but Israeli officials are working to defuse the issue before it gets out of hand. In addition to the border territory, the neighbors are also squabbling over maritime boundaries of an energy field discovered in the Mediterranean off the coasts of both nations, each country claiming title to the same section of the field. Making matters worse, Lebanon floated a tender for developers of its part of the field and included a block claimed by Israel in the offer which resulted in a contract with a three-state consortium that includes France, Italy and Russia. Jerusalem is seeking international mediation to resolve the crisis. But the Israeli security echelon has long feared that a spontaneous reaction to an event could be the catalyst to a devastating conflagration. Observers fear the dispute over the valuable gas field with both parties threatening to use all options to protect their property could be just the trigger.