Should Hezbollah use force to prevent "Israel" from operating in Karish gas field?
Although Hezbollah backs the Lebanese government to settle the maritime dispute peacefully, Sayyed Nasrallah has warned "Israel" that "everything is on the table, [...] we do not want a war, but we do not fear one."
The confrontation between Lebanon and the Israeli occupation entity over a maritime border in the Mediterranean Sea intensified after a ship operated by gas exploration company Energean arrived on June 5 to begin drilling in the disputed Karish gas field, pushing Hezbollah to warn the Israeli entity of using force.
The Secretary-General of Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned the Israeli entity on 9 June that the Karish gas field is a "red line", demanding the entity to halt its activities in the field.
"Everything is on the table for the resistance [...] we do not want a war, but we do not fear one. Israel must halt its activities in the Karish field and swiftly and immediately withdraw its ship from there," Sayyed Nasrallah warned in a televised speech.
"The company that owns the drilling ship should swiftly withdraw it, and it should be fully responsible for any losses, be they material or human", Nasrallah added. "We have the right to do everything needed to collect the required information to execute any option that we might find adequate."
"The Resistance surely has the financial, military, and security capabilities to prevent the enemy from extracting oil and gas from the Karish gas field," he added.
Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem told Reuters that Hezbollah is ready to take action "including force" against Israeli gas operations in disputed waters once the Lebanese government adopts a clearer policy on the issue.
"Main course is to defend our wealth"
Laure Abi-Khalil, a professor of political science at the Lebanese University, said that Hezbollah has been "representing the Lebanese Resistance" and will use force against any threat.
"When the resistance finds that there is a danger to the gas wealth, it has every right to respond and to defend our rights and the right of future generations," Abi-Khalil told Al Mayadeen English.
"Let's not forget that the Resistance is offering its capabilities to support the Lebanese government so that it can improve its negotiating ability."
Should Hezbollah use force to stop "Israel" from developing the Karish gas field if talks to resolve the maritime dispute stalled, Abi-Khalil said, "The Resistance does not seek war for war, but whenever the need arises, the Resistance has its defense strategy."
"After Lebanon's economic crisis, the main course is to defend our wealth, to ensure our sustainability," Abi-Khalil noted.
The US, and Israeli lobby's pressures
Following Hezbollah leader's threats of using force to stop developing the Karish gas field, the US expressed concern on the second day, June 10, about the escalating tone and rhetoric being used around the issue.
The State Department also announced on June 10 that Senior Advisor Amos Hochstein "will travel to Lebanon on June 13-14 to discuss sustainable solutions to Lebanon’s energy crisis."
In late 2017, Lebanon signed a gas exploration and production agreement with a consortium comprising the French company Total, the Italian Eni, and the Russian Novatek for gas blocks 4 and 9.
However, though committed to its exploration deal with Lebanon, Total stressed that it would not start operations on Block 9 until the Israeli-Lebanese maritime dispute was resolved, according to MEE.
Asked why Total refused to explore gas for Lebanon in Block 9 although "Israel' has been able to convince Energean Power's vessel to develop the disputed Karish gas field for "Israel", Abi-Khalil accused the US of pressuring international companies to operate Karish oil gas in disputed maritime borders.
"The US seeks to hand over influence to the Israeli enemy in the Arab Mashreq, i.e. to become a leading reference for all countries in the region," Abi-Khalil told Al Mayadeen English.
After the US recognized "Jerusalem" as the capital of the entity, "the Knesset passed the Jewish National Law, which proves the enemy’s implementation of the policy of making everything an Israeli and Judaization inside occupied Palestine," Abi-Khalil added.
Abi-Khalil stressed that the Israeli enemy has moved to consolidate its influence abroad through the implementation of regional foreign policy, proving once again the "political-diplomatic capabilities of the enemy and its ability to persuade Western companies, including the Energean Power vessel, to explore Karish."
"This is due to the pressures exerted by the United States and the Zionist lobby on international companies that share with their economic interests and material capabilities," she told Al Mayadeen English.
Hochstein landed in Beirut on Monday and met on Tuesday with President Michel Aoun and other senior government officials and parliamentarians as part of the indirect negotiations to demarcate the maritime border.
President Aoun received Hochstein in the presence of the US Ambassador to Beirut Dorothy Shea, and Aoun informed Hochstein of Lebanon's official position regarding the demarcation of the maritime borders and stressed Lebanon's sovereign rights to water and natural resources.
Al Mayadeen Arabic correspondent, citing information obtained, pointed out that Lebanon will demand the preservation of the entire Qana field, and thus adherence to all oil wealth, even beyond the line 23, rejecting the line previously drawn up by Hochstein in February, whereby he cut off parts of Block no. 8.
The correspondent stated that Aoun "responded orally to Hochstein's previous offer and presented a new proposal," adding that Aoun "requested prompt answers through Hochstein from the other side, i.e. Tel Aviv."
Indirect talks between Lebanon and "Israel" fizzled out in 2021 after Lebanon pushed its claim in the disputed zone from a boundary known as "Line 23" further south to "Line 29", adding around 1,400 square km (540 square miles) to its maritime borders, including part of Karish.
To overcome the impasse, according to media reports, Hochstein proposed a field swap that would create an S-shaped boundary instead of a straight line, but Lebanon did not officially agree to the proposal.
Two unnamed official sources told Reuters on June 14 that President Aoun would demand from the US energy envoy that indirect talks resume as soon as possible and that "Israel" stop all works at Karish until negotiations are concluded, the two officials said.
Asked if Hochstein's visit to Beirut can relaunch indirect maritime border negotiations, Abi-Khalil said it is up to Hoshstein's proposals.
"Re-launching the negotiations is related to the proposals that will be presented by the American envoy, which must take into account the Lebanese interest," said Abi-Khalil.
"Views united on the decision taken by His Excellency the President of the Republic, which strengthens the Lebanese position," she added.
Previous talks stalled after Lebanon said that the map used by the United Nations in the talks required modification. It is not clear yet if Lebanon can resume talks now without the map being modified.
"We can say that the visit of the American envoy to Beirut today means the resumption of negotiations, especially if the United States does not want an escalation in the region," Abi-Khalil told Al Mayadeen English. "[Indirect] Negotiations are a necessity at this stage."