Hezb'allah encourages Lebanese theft of Israeli natural gas

The Mediterranean Levant Basin is offshore to Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Cyprus. It could hold 120 trillion cubic feet of gas. This is enough to supply energy for the region and Europe.  Israel has two huge gas fields, Leviathan and Tamar, as well as other smaller gas fields, which are part of Israel's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in that basin.  

The Karish natural field is one of these. Gas was discovered there in 2016, Karish is owned by Energean Israel.  In 2017 the Israeli Minister of Energy approved development.

United Nations international maritime maps, including maps submitted by Lebanon in 2011, show Karish in Israeli territorial waters.  In 2019 it was revealed that Karish has recoverable natural gas resources significantly larger than originally expected. 

Under pressure from Hezb'allah, Lebanon claims Karish ownership and asserts the maps are wrong.  Lebanon demands that drilling be halted until the dispute regarding maritime borders is settled. 

Energean installed an exploration platform in the Kadish Field, and announced they would begin extracting gas within three months. 

Hezb'allah was founded in 1982 by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Lebanese voters have given Hezb'allah powerful influence and seats in Lebanon's Parliament.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, secretary general of Hezb'allah, gave a televised speech on June 9 about "Israeli provocations" in the maritime area.  He threatens to strike the gas rig that Israel is setting up at Karish. Nasrallah thundered that Lebanon has the right to fight militarily to prevent Israel from extracting oil and gas from the Karish area.

Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati invited Biden's State Department energy envoy Amos Hochstein to mediate "negotiations to demarcate the southern maritime border and to work on concluding the issue as fast as possible to prevent any escalation that would not serve the state of stability in the region." Is that a threat from the prime minister?

Amos Hochstein served under Obama Administration Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.  Neither of these secretaries were known as pro-Israel.  In Beirut on June 14, Amos met with Lebanese president Michel Aoun at the Baabda Presidential Palace.  It is reported that Hochstein proposed a gas field swap, but Lebanon did not officially agree. 

No date is set for Hochstein's visit to Israel.  Diplomacy proceeds tentatively.  

Leader of the terrorist Hamas organization, Ismail Haniyeh, went to Lebanon June 23rd for a meeting with Nasrallah. We speculate on what these terrorist haters of Israel might have discussed. 

Lebanon and Egypt are expected to sign an agreement for gas supply through a pipeline which will pass from Egypt through Jordon and Syria.  Lebanon has a severe energy shortage and many parts of the country have electricity only two hours a day. A Catch-22 is that Egypt gets much of its gas from Israel. 

Israel, Egypt, and the European Union (EU) signed a milestone "memorandum of understanding" in mid-June that Israel will export its natural gas to the EU.  The goal is to reduce dependence on Russian gas. Gas will flow from Israel to Egypt through a pipeline and then be transported on tankers to Europe.  It is anticipated that this will bring $1 billion shekels to Israel.

The importance of gas development to Israel was not always self-evident.  Over a decade ago, Israeli cooperative gas development was blocked by Anti-Trust Commissioner David Gilo.  Prime Minister Netanyahu declared gas development to be a national security priority and Commissioner Gilo resigned.  Houston-based Noble Energy and Israel's Delek Group became consortium partners.

Leftist member of the Knesset Zehava Galon launched an attack suggesting that American philanthropist Sheldon Adelson had contacted Netanyahu to influence the natural gas issue.  Zehava wanted Netanyahu out of gas negotiations.  Adelson responded "I never had any discussions, in writing, in person, or by telephone with the Prime Minister regarding any gas company. I hope that Israel becomes energy independent and an energy exporter, but so does every Israeli and every Jew around the world.  I don't even know Noble Energy.  This is all a complete fabrication and 100% false." It was determined that the accusations were completely without merit. 

Adelson died in 2021, but he must be elated because his hope for Israel's energy has come true. 

Darlene Casella is an internationally published writer, a former English teacher, stockbroker, and owner/president of a small corporation.  She is active with Republican Women Federated, the Coachella Valley Lincoln Club, the California Republican Party, PEO, Armed Services YMCA-29 Palms Marine Base.  She can be reached at darlenecasella@msn.com


Image: Fjmustak.

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