Israel has never needed any particular pretext to attack its neighbor to the north, but with Israel finding itself in possession of (or at least within the vicinity of) some $40 billion in oil and gas fields, the nation’s Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau is threatening the use of military force to back up Israeli claims to owning all of those fields.
Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri for his part accused Israel of “ignoring the map.” They really aren’t, however, they just have a different (and secret) map of their own.
While Lebanon’s map of maritime claims is based on drawing a perpendicular line off the Mediterranean coast at the location of the border, which seems to be the usual practice, Israel’s map assumes that since its declared border juts off at an obtuse angle with Lebanon they can extend the line to claim “economic waters” even though they are off the Lebanese coast. Furthermore, Israel has never actually defined what they claim as their waters.
The offshore fields in question are right along the disputed border, and would put a significant percentage in Lebanese territory. Israeli officials are claiming that the Lebanese objection to Israel building massive oil and gas rigs off the coasts of their southern towns are simultaneously part of a larger objection to Israel’s “very existence” and a cynical attempt to make Israel do all the exploration work and then swoop in and claim a share of the proceeds.