Israel and Lebanon are entering one of the most strained periods they have experienced since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 over the location of Israel’s Karish gas rig, close to Lebanon in the Mediterranean Sea. Directing the conflict against Israel is Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite terrorist group backed by Iran. Hezbollah has both a military wing and a political wing and has been elected to the Lebanese Parliament.
Israel has learned to take her enemy’s threats seriously and Hezbollah is talking about the possibility of war. In an interview with 103 FM Radio on Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz (National Unity) said: "This could lead to a reaction, to a day of battle that could develop into several days of battle. It could lead to a military operation." The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Energy, the IDF, and the Knesset have remained silent regarding Nasrallah’s threat.
In early September, Energian, the company managing the drilling, is slated to begin operation of the Karish rig. Nasrallah is threatening to damage the rig if pumping begins without an agreement between Israel and Lebanon on the boundaries of the territorial waters of the two countries.
According the Israel Hayom, the only official statement that Israel released claims that the Karish is not in disputed waters. This is based upon historic maps provided, in fact, by Lebanon. In 2011, after the discovery of the first gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, Israel and Lebanon submitted their territorial waters maps to the United Nations and the intended location of the Karish rig was determined about five years later, based on the original Lebanese map.
Only after the location was chosen did Beirut expand the area of water that it claims belongs to it.
Israel still hopes that the American mediator, Amos Hochstein, will be able to find a compromise that will prevent a conflict. Throughout the talks, instead of being willing to compromise, Lebanon has been demanding increasingly rigid conditions.
Even if an agreement is achieved, the current government, being a caretaker government without a majority in the Knesset, has no authority to approve it. Any Israeli territorial concession to Lebanon needs to be approved only after national elections (scheduled for November) and the formation of a new coalition government. MKs Yariv Levin (Likud) and Orit Strock (Religious Zionism) wrote to Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, reminding them that, according to law, "any change in Israel's border line will be approved by the Knesset by a majority of 80 MKs, or will be submitted to the public as a referendum after it is approved by the Knesset by a normal majority."