There is no basis for a Lebanese claim to ownership of the latest gas discoveries off Israel's coast, experts on international borders told "Globes" today.
Israel's territorial waters extend to twelve nautical miles from its coastline, about 40 kilometers. The Tamar gas discovery is some 90 kilometers west of Israel. The Leviathan prospect, where there is apparently twice as much gas as in Tamar, is further away, 130 kilometers from the coastline. The principles of international law state that a costal country's ownership of the seabed, the continental shelf, extends much further, as much as 300-400 kilometers from the coast.
For Israel, ownership of the continental shelf is limited by Cyprus. The border dividing the two countries' ownership runs halfway between them. The same principle applies to the sea boundary between Israel and Lebanon: it runs on a line equidistant from the two countries' coastlines.
Israel has a signed agreement with Jordan on the sea border in the Gulf of Eilat, and unwritten agreements with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, but no such agreement has so far been reached with Lebanon.
In cases of dispute, it is usual practice to hand the decision to an agreed arbitrator. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 lists arbitrators and conciliators. However, Israel is not a signatory to the convention, because of its fear of biased arbitrators.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 9, 2010
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