Studies show that US coverage is Israeli-centric. The main bureaus for CNN, Associated Press, Time, etc. are located in Israel and often staffed by Israelis. The son of the NY Times bureau chief is in the Israeli army;"pundit" Jeffrey Goldberg served in the IDF; Wolf Blitzer worked for AIPAC. Because the U.S. gives Israel over $8 million/day - more than to any other nation - we feel it is essential that we be fully informed on this region. Below are news reports to augment mainstream coverage.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lebanon, Israel at odds on valuable offshore gas rights

Ma'an, AFP -- Israel's cabinet approved on Sunday a map of the Jewish state's proposed maritime borders with Lebanon to be submitted for a UN opinion, in a brewing dispute between the neighbors over offshore gas fields.

Lebanon's Energy Minister Gebran Bassil countered that Beirut will not give up its maritime rights.

Israel's proposed map lays out maritime borders that conflict significantly with those suggested by Lebanon in its own submission to the United Nations.

"The cabinet today approved the draft of the northern maritime border of Israel," said a statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office.

"This line demarcates the area of the state's economic rights, including the exploitation of natural resources."

Israel's map could bring it into fresh conflict with Lebanon, with both countries disagreeing on where the border lies.

"The outline that Lebanon submitted to the UN is significantly further south than the line Israel is proposing," Netanyahu said at the meeting.

"It also conflicts with the line that we have agreed upon with Cyprus and, what is more significant in my eyes, it conflicts with the line that Lebanon itself agreed upon with Cyprus in 2007."

"Our goal is to determine Israel's position regarding its maritime border, in keeping with the principles of international maritime law," Netanyahu said.

Israel has been moving to develop several large offshore natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean, some which is shared with Cyprus, that it hopes could help it to become an energy exporter.

But its development plans have stirred controversy with Lebanon, which argues the gas fields lie inside its territorial waters. Israel does not have officially demarcated maritime borders with Lebanon, and the two nations remain technically at war.

In Beirut, Bassil told AFP: "We will see what Israel sends to the United Nations. We have no a priori (position). If it respects international law, there is no problem."

However, he warned that "no Lebanese will accept either the renunciation of their energy resources or their maritime rights."

"Lebanon has drawn its borders (maritime) based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea," Bassil said.

"Israel has not yet signed and must respect international law by acceding to the Convention ... or should remain silent and stop referring to international laws," said Bassil.

But Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said his country was convinced it would win support for its position at the United Nations.

"We will soon be presenting the United Nations headquarters in New York with our position on our maritime borders," Lieberman told Israeli public radio.

"We have already concluded an agreement on this issue with Cyprus... Lebanon, under pressure from Hezbollah, is looking for friction, but we will not give up any part of what is rightfully ours," he charged.

Bassil dismissed the charge as "a prelude to aggression to which we have become accustomed," citing Israeli "violations of (Lebanese) waters, territory and airspace, and today our oil rights."

The two biggest-known offshore fields, Tamar and Leviathan, lie 130 kilometers (80 miles) off Israel's northern city of Haifa.

An Israeli company has in recent weeks also announced the discovery of two new natural gas fields, Sarah and Mira, around 70 kilometers (45 miles) off the city of Hadera further south.