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Lebanon asks U.N. to protect peace over maritime borders
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BEIRUT: Lebanon asked the United Nations Monday to take sufficient measures to prevent any danger to international peace and security that might arise from Israeli violations of its regional waters.

“The geographic demarcation that Israel submitted to the United Nations of the northern part of its regional water and what Israel claims to be its regional waters and Exclusive Economic Zone clearly violates Lebanon’s sovereignty and economic rights,” Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“[We ask] Ban Ki-moon to take sufficient measures to prevent any conflict in order to preserve international peace and security according to decision 1701,” Mansour added.

The move is seen as a first step before Lebanon files a complaint against Israel to the U.N. Security Council under its Chapter 7, which sets out the U.N. Security Council’s powers to maintain peace.

Israel and Lebanon both lay claim to a disputed area that spans some 850 square kilometers off the coast between the two countries and is said to be rich in gas and oil resources.

Lebanon’s Parliament approved a draft law demarcating maritime borders with Israel earlier this year, following its proposal to the U.N. in 2010 which included the 850-square-kilometer economic zone.

Future bloc MP Mohammad Qabbani has previously said that Lebanon might be forced to take its case to the Security Council without specifying when it might do so.

In July, Israel approved and submitted to the U.N. a demarcation of its maritime borders which differs from Lebanon’s delineation, bringing it into fresh conflict with Lebanon over maritime resources.

In June, Lebanon filed a complaint to the U.N. over an agreement made between Cyprus and Israel demarcating an Exclusive Economic Zone at the maritime border between the two countries, which Lebanon considers a violation of its regional waters.

Among many Lebanese officials, including President Michel Sleiman, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has warned Israel against any attempt to encroach on Lebanon’s resource-rich territorial waters.

Israel has deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor its maritime resources, intensifying the conflict.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 23, 2011, on page 2.
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