Lebanon has asked the United States to mediate in the negotiations to demarcate the southern maritime border with Israel and work to end it as soon as possible, describing any excavation carried out by Tel Aviv in the disputed area as "aggressive."
This came in the wake of the arrival of a ship intending to start gas production for Tel Aviv in the disputed maritime area between the two countries.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the dispute with Lebanon over offshore natural gas reserves is a civilian matter that must be resolved through diplomatic means, mediated by the United States.
"Everything related to the conflict will be resolved within the framework of negotiations between us and Lebanon, mediated by the United States," Gantz added during statements to his parliamentary bloc on Monday.
Lebanon described the move as tantamount to aggression.
Invitation of the American envoy to Beirut
The "Energean" company announced in a statement that a ship operated by the company and registered in London had arrived at the "Karish" gas field, parts of which are claimed by Lebanon, and that the ship would immediately start its operations.
The move was condemned by the Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, and the caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, after they held talks on Monday to discuss the next steps.
The two sides agreed to "invite the American envoy to Beirut, Amos Hochstein, to discuss the resumption of negotiations to demarcate the southern maritime borders of Lebanon," which stopped last May, according to Mikati's statement.
The statement stated that "any exploration, drilling or extraction carried out by Israel in the disputed areas constitutes a provocation and an act of aggression."
Lebanese officials are themselves divided over the demarcation line
Israel and Lebanon resumed negotiations to demarcate their maritime borders in 2020, but the process was stymied by Beirut's announcement that the map used by the United Nations in the talks needed to be modified.
The Lebanese officials themselves are also divided over the demarcation line, and the official position of the state appears to be incompatible with it.
A demarcation, known as Maritime Border Line 29, gives Lebanon more land to the south, including parts of the Karish gas field.