BEIRUT: Hezbollah warned Thursday that Lebanon’s oil and gas wealth was at risk of Israeli piracy if the caretaker government fails to issue licenses for the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
“The oil and gas sector in Lebanon is becoming vulnerable to Israeli piracy, because of mistakes made by an incompetent government on one hand and the deliberate obstruction of issuing licenses, by some in power, on the other hand,” MP Hassan Fadlallah said, reading out the bloc’s statement.
The statement added that Israel was “imposing facts and measures in international decision-making circles and institutions that impeded Lebanon's ability to invest in the sector, especially if... the right to issue licenses is delayed or neglected.”
“Therefore, the caretaker government should convene a session to approve what needs to be approved,” it noted, saying this was the country’s highest priority.
The decrees, demarcating 10 maritime oil exploration blocks and establishing a revenue-sharing model, require Cabinet approval before oil and gas contracts can be awarded. The procedural delay is slowing down progress in the sector, Hezbollah argued.
The Loyalty to the Resistance bloc also spoke about the rising number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, criticizing some countries for exploiting the issue for political aid purposes.
“The bloc holds the U.N. chief responsible for negligence and deliberately delaying necessary aid for [Syrian refugees].”
The bloc also said that some countries could exploit humanitarian relief efforts and use it as a cover for Syrian rebels “with the aim of pressuring the Lebanese and interfering in their internal affairs,” he said.
Earlier this week, caretaker Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour criticized what he said were baseless pretexts placed by some countries to withhold direct aid to Lebanon to manage the refugees. Hezbollah’s participation in the government was one factor that discouraged countries from providing direct aid.
Lebanon is in dire need for international support to help cope with the presence of some 1.3 million refugees that has burdened the country’s economy and host communities.
The bloc also praised officials and local figures in the eastern town of Baalbek for their cooperation with Hezbollah and the Army to contain clashes that erupted last week, affirming its keenness to maintain coexistence in the city between all sects. The bloc rejected "cheap political attempts" to destabilize the area.
Clashes between Hezbollah members and members from the Sunni Shiyyah family broke out last week over a personal dispute at a checkpoint set up by the resistance group. The fighting left four people killed and five others wounded.